Have you ever made sugar syrup at home? If yes, you must have noticed, as you keep cooking the syrup the water evaporates and syrup gets thicker and thicker. That’s what happens in your body as well. As your blood sugar goes higher than normal values the blood also starts becoming thicker in nature and results in poor circulation in your body. The circulation of blood to the legs and feet get affected the most as feet are the farthest from your heart. Poor blood flow makes it hard for a small cut / blister or infection to heal. Also, the foot loses its natural ability to moisturize the skin which becomes dry and increasingly prone to tears and hence infection. If blood glucose is high, the extra glucose feeds the germs. Germs grow and the infection gets worse.
I know that foot care isn’t the most exciting topic to read about. But foot care is a crucial part of diabetes self-management. Neglecting your feet can lead to serious problems down the road; even minor problems, such as a scratch, can lead to an infection or foot ulcer, which, if not caught and treated early on, can increase the risk of amputation. Very depressing thought, I know, for something that can be completely prevented.
By paying a little attention to your feet on a daily basis and taking care of your blood sugar at the same time, you can greatly lower your risk of developing problems.
- Everyone who has diabetes should get into the habit of checking their feet daily, no matter how their HbA1c (a test that shows your average blood sugar value for last three months) or blood sugar levels are. Looking at your feet every day for cuts, sores, redness and swelling is time well spent to avoid serious issues down the road.
- Soaking your feet in tub of warm water can sure feel good, especially if you’ve been standing all day. However, foot soaking is pretty much a ‘ no-no’ when it comes to diabetes foot care. It may seem strange, but keeping your feet immersed in water can actually dry out your skin.
- After bath, dry your feet completely, especially between the toes. It’s actually a good idea to put a thin layer of alcohol-free lotion. It is always a good idea to find out the best lotion/ cream for your feet and skin type from your doctor or podiatrist (foot doctor).However, bypass putting lotion between your toes. That area tends to stay moist naturally, so adding lotion may lead to moisture build-up, which, in turn, can set the stage for fungal infections.
- Be careful with pedicures. Gentle messages are fine, avoid rigorous rubbing. However, if you have any cuts or sores, avoid the temptation.
- No more walking bare foot. Once again, if you have loss of feeling in your feet, protect your feet at all times. You can easily get a pebble or piece of glass embedded in your foot and not feel it. Do not wear shoes or sandals which are pointed, tight fitting or have a hard sole, especially if you have flat foot, any other foot deformity or loss of sensation in your feet. Check with your doctor or podiatrist and change your foot wear. Special diabetic foot wear distribute pressure evenly and avoid high pressure points at a particular position.
- Always check the inside of your shoe before wearing them for any small stones or sharp objects.
- Always prefer cotton socks, in which your skin can easily breathe and no tight elastic bands please.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Do not put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes two or three times a day. Do not cross your legs for long periods of time.
- Avoid smoking, as it also affects the blood circulation in your body.