Tips for Protecting Diabetic Feet
Review these tips with your Health Care Professional (HCP). Your HCP should be familiar with your situation and can provide additional advice and set-up a Preventive Care Plan for you. Visit your HCP regularly.
Inspect Your Feet Daily for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, swelling, dry areas, or any changes to your feet. If necessary, use a mirror to view the underside of your feet. If you have corns, calluses, bunions, ingrown nails or other ailments, seek help from a qualified physician/podiatrist. Do not treat these conditions yourself.
Approximately 80,000 lower leg amputations occur every year in the USA due to diabetic complications. It is estimated that 75% of these amputations could be prevented if diabetics would inspect their feet daily and visit their doctor regularly.
Trim toenails straight across and never too short. Carefully file them smooth. This will help prevent nails from cutting you and your shoes/socks will last longer. If you cannot cut your own nails, have a Podiatrist do it for you.
Wash Your Feet Daily in lukewarm water using a sponge or soft cloth. Completely dry feet especially between toes by blotting or patting. If using lotion on your feet, apply a thin coat, avoiding areas between toes.
Never wear overly tight socks or socks so loose they slide around the foot. Wearing socks that fit properly is very important. The toe seam should not be at the very end of the toes. Align the seamless toe closure and Y heel on your feet as shown.
Never share socks, shoes or towels. Change socks daily or more often, to avoid wearing damp or dirty socks. Always provide a good, clean, hygienic environment for the feet. Wear rubber sandals in public places like gym showers, pools etc.
Do not buy socks containing latex rubber. Latex can cause skin allergies. Do not buy socks because of their enticing decorative patterns. Decorative patterns appeal to the eyes but do nothing to protect feet. Before wearing socks, inspect them inside and out for irregularities.
Many Diabetic socks are all white or light colored in higher friction areas (heels/toes and soles). The white/light color assists early detection of sores or injury. Blood or fluids from feet can more easily be seen on white/light colored sock fibers versus dark colored fibers. Upon removing your socks, inspect to see if there are any blood/fluids - if so, call your HCP immediately. Early detection and treatment can prevent infection.
Inspect Your Shoes Each Time Before Wearing
Look for overly worn areas and feel inside your shoes for foreign objects that could cause harm to your feet.
With use, shoes break down, fit looser and no longer support the feet as when new. Broken-down shoes can alter the way you walk causing hot spots, calluses, corns, chaffing or blisters which can lead to open sores, ulcers and infection. Take a few pair of your shoes to your HCP to have them evaluated.
HCP’s usually know a lot about footwear and can likely recommend the appropriate shoes and store(s) in your area. Have them write down the footwear brand/model they recommend. The shoe store staff must be qualified to select and fit the proper footwear for you. Your HCP might also recommend custom-made orthotics or insoles to accommodate your feet.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting the Shoe Store
Try on shoes in the afternoon when feet are slightly swollen and wear the thickness of sock you normally wear to allow for an accurate fit.
Some people feel they know what their shoe size is and will only try on and buy shoes in that size. Your shoe size may have changed since the last time you bought shoes and wearing the wrong size shoe can damage your feet.
As we age, falling arches cause feet to increase in length and feet can also get wider. More than 30% of the population have different size left and right feet. Brands/models of shoes all fit differently as there is no shoe industry size standard. The shoe fitting device is only a starting point to help the staff find the shoe that’s closest to your size.
When Trying On New Shoes
Ask the store manager for their shoe fit expert (it’s usually the manager) to assist you because of your sensitive feet. Explain your needs and request the shoe brand/model your HCP recommends.
Measure both feet for length & width every time you try on new shoes. Stand up while being measured, put weight equally on both feet. This shows the true length and width of your feet. Try the size shoe that fits your longer foot to avoid buying a shoe that’s too tight. Many shoes are available in different widths. Getting a correct fitting shoe may require buying shoes in wider or narrower widths.
When they bring the shoes, carefully inspect the insides, visually and by hand, before trying them on. Even new shoes can have hidden problems. Check the size and width label on the inside of both shoes insuring they are the same. After putting on both shoes, stand up and ask the store person to check the fit (length/width) of both feet in the shoes. They’ll reach down and touch the outside of the shoe in a few places so they can feel the location of your toes and foot in the shoe. While standing you should have about ½ inch between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe.
Walk around the store for a few minutes, making sure both shoes fit and the heels don’t slip. Shoes should feel comfortable immediately. If one shoe does not feel perfect, ask to try on another pair of the same shoes in the same size. Inquire about the store’s return policy.
Before Wearing Your New Shoes
If possible, wear your new shoes at home for a few short periods of time until you are completely sure they are comfortable and will not harm your feet. If your new shoes are not right for you, most stores will take them back if you have not worn them outdoors and they are not scuffed or dirty. New shoes tend to grip better and can catch on things so be careful not to trip.
Alternate Wearing Shoes
If you wear the same pair of shoes every day their inner linings remain damp, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Mold and mildew also like to grow in dark, damp places and will prematurely deteriorate shoes from the inside. It’s best to rotate wearing three different pairs of shoes, so they have time to completely dry. If shoes have removeable insoles, remove them at night to speed up drying.
To protect your feet, even inside your home, always wear shoes or tough-soled slippers, which can be removed while sitting or lying down.
Do not wear socks without shoes.
Wearing socks on slippery surfaces can cause you to fall.