If you have diabetes, there are many different implications for your physical health and wellbeing, including heart disease, kidney disease, pancreas malfunction, and vision problems (even blindness!). This is clearly a serious medical issue, but it is important not to overlook the way the disease affects the health of your feet.
Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers are two examples of very serious medical problems that can develop on account of diabetes. The best way to reduce the risk of such issues is to have a diabetic foot care plan in place. This is comprised of various pillars, but one of the most valuable is performing a diabetic foot self-exam every day.
Little problems can escalate into severe issues—the aforementioned Charcot foot and ulcers—but if you are able to catch them early, you can derail their progress. When neuropathy (nerve damage) is present and you are unable to feel things like a tiny cut or scrape, it will go untreated and infection can set, which could ultimately lead to an emergency room visit.
So, if you are unable to feel issues when they develop, how can you take care of them at early, less-dangerous stages? Well, this is where your daily foot check comes into play.
Physically inspecting all surfaces of both feet on a daily basis is necessary to discover any problems at their earliest, most treatable stages. This is especially important for those who have neuropathy. Perform your inspection before going to bed, and use a mirror or the assistance from a loved one if you are unable to see the bottoms of your feet.
If you find anything out of the ordinary during your daily foot inspection, call us and schedule the earliest possible appointment!
If you observe any signs of infection—warmth, swelling, redness—seek immediate medical care!!
In addition to checking your feet every day, other components of a diabetic foot care plan include:
- Proper foot hygiene. Wash your feet every day with warm (not hot!) water, mild soap, and a soft hand towel. Afterwards, gently pat your feet dry and take special care to ensure the areas between the toes are not damp (attractive to bacteria and fungus) before putting on diabetic socks.
- Moisturizing. Fissures and cracks accompanying excessive dryness provide a path for fungus and bacteria to potentially enter your body—which features the damp, dark, and warm conditions they need to thrive—and create a dangerous situation. You can reduce the risk of this happening by moisturizing your heels, tops, and bottoms of your feet. Avoid the areas between your toes, however.
- Protection. If you have diabetes always wear footwear, even at home! Before putting on a pair of shoes, take time to inspect the insides and make sure nothing is in them that could damage your feet.
- Exercise. Regular exercise promotes healthy blood flow and reduces your risk of diabetic complications. Be careful with this, though, and do not start an exercise program without consulting with your primary care physician and our office first.
- Regularly scheduled appointments. We are both on the same team when it comes to your foot health. Coming in to see us at our Palm Desert office for regular appointments makes it more likely issues are caught at their earliest stages and treated appropriately. We can also provide tips and advice to help prevent problems from developing in the first place.
To schedule an appointment with the office of Harvey Danciger, DPM, please give us a call at 760-568-0108. You can also fill out the online appointment request form and our office will get in touch with you shortly.