Looking after your feet
Foot-related complications are common for people with diabetes, making foot care incredibly important.
The presence of high blood glucose levels (BGLs) over time can lead to a condition called diabetic neuropathy, where the nerves in your feet and toes are damaged. You can lose sensation in your feet, meaning you may not feel it if you cut or hurt your feet.
It is therefore very important for you to check your own feet every day and have regular checkups with a healthcare professional.
When should I see a health care professional?
You should see a GP, diabetes educator or registered podiatrist when you are first diagnosed. They will be able to tell you whether you are at high risk of developing further foot complications and what steps you can take to prevent this.
You should see a GP, diabetes educator or registered podiatrist every six months after that, or more often if you need treatment.
What does this check involve?
The healthcare professional will look at your bare feet and will assess your:
- foot shape
- feeling and reflexes (nerves)
- blood flow to the feet (circulation)
- skin (for dryness, calluses, corns, cracks or infections).
What can I do at home?
In addition to having your feet checked regularly by a healthcare professional, you need to get to know your own feet and check them every day.
To prevent foot complications you should:
- Wash and dry your feet every day, especially between your toes.
- Check your feet every day for bruises, cuts, blisters or splinters. Make sure you check your whole foot – look between your toes, around your heels and at the soles of your feet.
- Clip your toenails regularly and cut them straight across. Gently file any sharp edges.
- Use moisturisers to prevent dry skin and cracking (but don’t moisturise between your toes).
- Never use over-the-counter corn cures.
- Take care when choosing new shoes. Have your feet measured when you are buying new shoes and make sure you chose supportive shoes that are the right length, width, and depth.
- Keep your feet away from direct heat (such as heaters, hot water bottles or electric blankets) and use slippers instead.
- Avoid tight-fitting shoes, socks or stockings.
- Always wear shoes.
If you can’t see or reach your feet, ask someone to check them for you.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- unusual swelling
- ingrown toenails
- any bruising, scratches or cuts that do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours.