7 Ways to Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Managing your diabetic foot care is the best way to prevent complications like ulcers. (These are hard-to-heal infections that put you at risk for amputation.) Of course, our Spring and Tomball, TX podiatrists are here to help if problems develop.
Just ask Dave, one of our patients who recently shared this about his experience with us. “I highly recommend Dr Dhukani and this practice. The doctor took care of my wounded toe quickly and thoroughly. Important to point out is that I had this same procedure done a year earlier at another practice and the experience here was far superior.
First, Dr Dhukani has a great bedside manner that puts you at ease. I also liked that she provided a wound care kit so I didn’t have to buy bandages and other treatments after the procedure. Second, the practice was exceptionally managed with efficient scheduling as well the handling of paperwork and payment. It’s obvious everyone is invested in the quality of care and service. Do not hesitate to schedule here.”
While we love healing your wounds, we’d rather keep your feet from experiencing pain. Which is why, in this post, we’re sharing the top tips to stop diabetic foot ulcers before they develop!
Seasonal Safety for Diabetic Feet
All throughout the year, diabetic feet are at risk for developing ulcers. And, at any time of year, research now reveals that men have a higher risk for ulcers than women. Even worse, their ulcers were typically deeper, more likely to penetrate to the bone, and more like to lead to systemic infections.
But back to the main topic: seasonal risks. Each time of year presents it’s own challenges for diabetic feet. So let’s explore them so you can stay safe.
Diabetic Foot Health in Summer
Ahh, summer. Here in the Texas heat, we love to kick off our shoes and run into the lake or pool. But, in this same state and country, there are 34.2 million Americans living with diabetes. And if you’re one of them, going barefoot is a major no-no, regardless of the season.
Remember, for anyone, walking on hot sand, rocks or even tall grass could lead to scrapes or cuts. And, for people without diabetes, that’s usually not a problem. After all, a little scratch is nothing some Neosporin and a band-aid can’t heal, right?
Unfortunately, when you have diabetes, that’s not the case. Because many complex wounds begin a small problem like a scratch or even a blister. In turn, ulcers may develop. And from there, infections, tissue loss and amputation are all real possibilities. Why is that the case? Well, it all has to do with the changes diabetes makes to your body.
Blood Flow and Neuropathy
Sometimes, people with diabetes develop peripheral neuropathy. This is a form of nerve damage that can make you lose feeling in your lower legs and feet. As a result, you might not notice a small scratch. But it could still become infected. Then, because high sugar levels in your blood can impact circulation, that same infection could take longer to heal.
Now, instead of dealing with a minor annoyance, you’ve got a major health issue. This possibility is why we tell our diabetic patients to check their feet every day. (And see the podiatrist several times a year.) It’s also why we recommend that you never go barefoot with diabetes. Even in your own home, but especially not outdoors. No matter how high the temperature climbs. Always covering your feet can go a long way towards preventing diabetic complications. But, on its own, that won’t be enough to keep you protected. So keep reading for our top 7 diabetic-ulcer-preventing safety tips.
7 Ways to Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- Don’t go barefoot. Indoors, scattered toys could hurt your feet, and not enough support could cause changes to your foot shape. And outdoors? The picture is even worse. From germs and debris to hot surfaces, walking without shoes leaves your feet open to burns, cuts and infections.
- Watch the way your socks fit. It’s important to wear socks that won’t bunch or rub against your feet, since that could give you blisters. Plus, you want to draw moisture away from your feet to prevent chafing and fungal infections, so material matters too. In addition to special socks, we may recommend switching to diabetic shoes to give your feet extra protection.
- Clean and dry your feet every day. Make sure to take a towel between your toes when drying, since those little nooks take too long to air dry. Once your finished, do your daily foot check. Look at the tops and bottoms of your feet carefully. (Ask a friend for help, or grab a mirror to check hard-to-see spots like the bottoms of your feet or backs of your heels.) And check your nail length, since it’s important to keep them short and trimmed straight across. (Or, for added safety, ask for a diabetic medical pedicure at Dr. Michelle’s Medi Spa!)
- We recommend using creams that contain urea, to prevent dry, cracked skin. It’s fine to use a drug store product if you’ve never had problems. But if you’ve dealt with cracked or bleeding heels before, use a moisturizer that’s made for diabetics.
- Stay hydrated, especially in the hot Houston summer. This is a great general safety tip, but it could also help you avoid swollen feet and ankles. Plus, it could boost your overall circulation.
- Keep your diabetes in good control. Make sure to visit every member of your diabetes care team regularly. And follow any dietary changes, making sure to take all your prescribed medications too. Because well-controlled diabetes prevents blood sugar buildup. Which can also help you avoid diabetic complications.
- Don’t ignore a problem. If you spot a cut, scratch or even an area of pressure on your feet, make an appointment to see us right away. When you have diabetes, there are no small foot problems. But when you ask for immediate medical attention, you can keep minor issues from becoming major medical emergencies!