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Diabetics: Keep an eye on your feet
Diabetes can be brutal on your feet
Diabetes can make your feet red, numb, swollen, or develop sores that don't heal. The damage can become so bad that surgeons must amputate your lower leg to save your life. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations.
Lower leg amputation due to diabetes can be reduced by up to 85 percent simply by having your feet examined regularly by a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
DPMs specialize in diabetic foot care and work with you to preserve your feet, your mobility, and your quality of life.
Risk factors for diabetes
You might be prone to diabetes if you have a family history of diabetes, or are of African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent. Certain health problems—including obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity—also increase your risk.
A DPM can examine your feet for diabetes warning signs such as redness, numbness, swelling, scaly skin, inflammation, loss of hair on the toes, and non-healing wounds or sores. If symptoms are found, the DPM will refer you to other physicians, in addition to scheduling you for regular visits.
Check your feet daily
Look for cuts, sores, blisters, or changes to your skin or toenails. Also check for areas that have less sensation when you touch them, or seem "asleep." If you notice a change in your feet, see your DPM immediately.
Clean your feet daily
Be sure to wash in warm—not hot—water. Completely dry your feet after washing and pay special attention to drying between your toes.
Keep your skin healthy
Lightly apply lotion or moisturizer to your feet to help prevent dry, flaky, or cracked skin. Use lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but never between the toes.
Always wear shoes and socks
Wear soft, lightly padded socks to help avoid blisters and sores. Socks with no seams are best. Wear sturdy, supportive, and well-fitting shoes at all times to avoid injuries to your feet.
Take a walk
Walking is one of the best all-around exercises for people with diabetes. Walking is also an excellent conditioner for your feet.
Don't drink too much
Nerve damage is one of the consequences of diabetes. Drinking alcohol can speed up the damage associated with the disease, deaden more nerves, and increase the possibility of overlooking a cut or injury.
Don't wear anything tight around your legs
Pantyhose, girdles, thigh-highs, knee-highs, or even tight socks can constrict circulation to your legs and feet.
Never remove calluses, corns, or warts yourself
Avoid over-the-counter products to remove warts or corns because they can burn the skin and damage your feet. Never try to cut calluses with a razor blade or any other instrument. The risk of cutting yourself is too high.
Check your doctor's license
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who practices in California must be licensed by the California Board of Podiatric Medicine. Check a license online at www.bpm.ca.gov or call 916.263.2382.
For more information
California Board of Podiatric Medicine
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1300
Sacramento, CA 95815
California Podiatric Medical Association
2430 K Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95816
tel: 916.448.0248 or 800.794.8988
American Podiatric Medical Association
9312 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, MD 20814-1621
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
tel: 800.DIABETES or 800.342.2383