Over 25.6 million Americans are living with Diabetes Mellitus. This is a staggering number, and is still on the rise. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be very overwhelming. Not only are there new doctors you have to see and new medications you have to take, but this diagnosis is also accompanied by a huge lifestyle change.
Podiatrists are an important part of healthcare management for diabetic patients. After being diagnosed with diabetes, an individual should see their podiatrist at least on an annual basis. Complications of diabetes related to the foot and ankle include: Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, non-healing ulcers, and diabetic infections to name a few. All of these complications can be avoided and/or treated if the patient and podiatrist work together to manage their foot health.
Developing a daily at home foot care routine is an important aspect of managing foot health. Including each of the following in your daily routine can help minimize serious infections and injuries:
Pick a Time of Day – Picking a specific time of day to examine your feet can help you form a routine. For example, take a few minutes before going to bed or when you get home from work each day.
Begin with your socks – When you take off your socks, look for any signs of infection or injury. For example, dried blood or yellow/brown drainage. Individuals with peripheral neuropathy may not feel an injury when it takes place. Looking for signs on their socks can be a huge tip-off about an injury.
The Foot Exam – Next, examine the feet themselves. If you are unable to see the bottoms of your feet ask a family member/friend/caregiver to help. During this exam, look for any cuts/scratches, ulcers, blisters, dryness, redness, warmth, swelling or pain. Also, examine the nails for any discoloration, thickness, or ingrown borders. If you notice any of the above, make an appointment with your podiatrist to discuss diagnoses and treatment.
Washing – Wash your feet with warm water and soap. Avoid soaking your feet and dry them thoroughly when you are finished. Washing your feet regularly can decrease the likelihood of infections.
Developing a routine can seem time consuming and difficult at first. But once you have gotten in the groove it will become second nature. Following the above steps daily can significantly lower your risk for developing non-healing ulcers and serious infections. The key to healing is catching an injury early and treating it appropriately.
If you or someone you know has issues with their feet related to diabetes, consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary Friedlander or Dr. Jay Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. Remember, managing diabetes is a team effort and you are the Captain or your team!