Diabetes and Your Feet

Submitted by Kirsten Hansen, LPN


Most of us we take our feet for granted. Sometimes I say to my clients that our feet are the
furthest thing from our head, so they are the last thing we think about. The average person
walks over 100,000 kilometres in their lifetime, therefore foot care should be just as important
as brushing our teeth – right? Foot care is even more important when we have diabetes.
When someone has diabetes, they are at higher risk for foot complications. Regularly high
blood sugars can cause nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), poor blood flow, or loss of
circulation in the legs and feet. This nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation in the feet,
sometimes presenting symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling or pins and needles. For
some with diabetes, these symptoms can be quite painful, affecting mobility. Severe
complications can include infection, foot ulcers (open wounds on the feet) or even amputation.
With diabetes, small cuts or infections can take much longer to heal. Proper care of your feet is
critical to reduce the risk for these complications.

So What Can You Do?

There are a few simple things that are recommended for people with diabetes to help reduce
their risk for complications and to keep their feet healthy:
• Inspect your feet daily for any changes such as cuts, cracks, ingrown nails or blisters.
• Wash your feet daily with mild soap and water. Dry well between the toes.
• Clean and cover any cuts or scratches.
• Apply lotion to your feet daily. Avoid putting lotion between the toes and wipe off and
excess.
• Don’t walk barefoot and wear proper fitting footwear.
• Wear a fresh pair of clean socks daily.
• Don’t try to remove corns or calluses yourself or use medicated corn pads.
• Trim toe nails straight across and file any sharp edges.

If you are unable to reach your feet or can’t see well, I recommend seeing a health care
professional trained in advanced foot care (such as a Foot Care Nurse like myself, or a
Podiatrist/Chiropodist). Even if you can take care of your feet, you should see a professional at
least once or twice a year for a diabetes foot examination. Together, we can keep your feet
healthy!

Kirsten Hansen, LPN

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