Think Feet First This Summer
With the warmer weather here, our feet are probably out on show a bit more than usual. Take a look at at our top tips for looking after your feet this summer!
It’s approaching that time of the year to pull out the swimwear and flip flops, and many of you will be preparing to be poolside or at the beach. But before putting those toes in the sand, remember it's especially important to look after your feet if you have diabetes. As a person with diabetes, you may be at greater risk of injury and infection to your feet, due to nerve damage (known as peripheral neuropathy) and reduced blood flow. This can mean foot injuries don't heal as well as they might, and you may not even notice if your foot is sore or injured. With these increased risks, small injuries can turn into even larger complications, so it's vital you stay on top of your feet!
Whilst keeping your blood glucose levels in range can help reduce the risk of complications, it's advisable to keep tabs on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels too and if needs be speak a healthcare professional about medications to help keep these under control.
- Check your feet daily, looking for any redness, swelling, blisters, cuts, or soreness. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to help.
- Wash your feet daily to help keep them free from infection. Dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Walk frequently and be more active to help increase blood flow to your feet. Speak to your healthcare team about the suitable amount of exercise.
- Have your toenails trimmed by a professional unless you can adequately see and reach them. If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed straight across without cutting them too short. File the edges with an emery board or nail file.
- When using lotions to the feet, always apply a thin coat and avoid the area between the toes.
- Visit a private or NHS Podiatrist at least once a year for a thorough exam. The NHS website has a useful look up tool for searching for Podiatrists in your area (click here).
- Never walk barefoot, even on the beach or in your garden to avoid cuts.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet and avoid sitting with your legs crossed so you don't restrict your blood circulation.
- Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
- Avoid extreme temperatures to the bottoms of your feet. Protect them from hot and cold temperatures. Don’t put your feet into hot water. Always test the water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Be very cautious of using hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realising it.
- Avoid smoking, as smoking increases the risk of long term complications.
- Seek the assistance of a podiatrist or foot care specialist if you develop corns, calluses, ingrown nails or other foot care related issues - do not wait!
- Most importantly, take care of your diabetes. Work with your healthcare team to keep your blood glucose within your target range.