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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : opinions : columns May 26, 2016

8/6/2013 11:03:00 AM
Guest column: Diabetic foot care - the importance of a daily routine

Individuals with diabetes need to take special precaution with their sensitive feet. If there is poor sensation or movement in the foot, changes in the foot's shape or if the person has had a wound on the foot in the past, their feet are considered high risk and they should see a podiatrist for monthly foot care.

Diabetic foot ulcers are the number-one cause of lower extremity amputation. More than half of these amputations could have been avoided with proper foot care. Comprehensive foot care for people who have diabetes adds only minutes to normal daily routines, but years to your feet. For proper diabetic foot care, the American Diabetes Association recommends the following:

• Diabetics should control their blood sugar levels at all times.

• A physician should check feet at least once a year and patients should be seen immediately for any minor or major changes in the feet.

• Feet need to be checked daily. Diabetics should look at the tops, bottoms and in between the toes. Using a mirror is helpful if there is no one else to look at them. People should look for cuts, blisters, sores, swelling, corns, calluses, dry skin and cracks.

• Diabetics should wash their feed with lukewarm water and apply lotion daily, making sure to not apply lotion between the toes.

• Diabetics should cut toenails straight across and an emery board should be used used to smooth the edges. If toenails are thick, discolored or ingrown, a podiatrist should cut them monthly.

• Corns and calluses can be removed after bathing by gently rubbing them with a dry towel. A podiatrist should care for large or thick corns and calluses. Never use razor blades, scissors or knives of any sort on feet. Diabetics should never use over-the-counter callous or corn-removing products without approval from their physician.

• Diabetics should avoid standing for long periods of time and should elevate their feet while sitting.

• It is never a good idea to use heating pads or hot-water bottles on the feet.

• Diabetics should check the inside of shoes before putting them on. It's a good idea to feel for rocks, staples or other objects that could irritate skin.

• Shoes that are made of a breathable material that cover the entire foot and have a solid sole are safe for those with diabetes. Open-toed and high-heeled shoes should be avoided.

• When buying shoes, diabetics should have someone measure their feet. They should not rely on how shoes "feel."

• It's good to break in new shoes by slowly increasing wear time.

• Diabetics should always wear clean socks with no seams, wrinkles, holes or repairs.

• Diabetics should consider custom shoes or orthotics if there is any previous or present foot condition or deformity.

For more information about diabetic foot care, visit the American Diabetes Association Web site at diabetes.org or the Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention (LEAP) organization at bphc.hrsa.gov/leap.

Flagstaff Medical Center's Diabetes Education and Management Program is designed to help people manage their diabetes, whether they have been newly diagnosed or living with diabetes for many years. We assist those with Type 1, Type 2 or gestational diabetes, and those who are interested in diabetes prevention. More information can be found by calling (928)-773-2249 or visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com/OurServices/DiabetesEducationMgmt.

Susan Lynch, R.N., is a certified wound ostomy continence nurse. Is there a health topic you'd like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o Flagstaff Medical Center, Public Relations, 1200 North Beaver St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FlagstaffMedicalCenter.

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