There are more than 200 million people who are currently affected by diabetes and a whopping 7 million develop diabetes every year (International Diabetes Federation). Diabetic people need should be conscious about their health and this often includes a regular check on blood sugar level, kidney tests (at least annually) and foot health. Many often ignore to care their feet, only because they are too busy to “look down”. If you are diabetic, caring for your feet is a priority that you shouldn’t overlook. Even a slightest injury to your feet with ignorance may lead to leg amputation! Yes, it’s that serious!
Why do diabetic foot injuries fail to heal?
Diabetics are prone to reduced blood flow to their feet, which is why their injuries fail to heal. A small cut may take a long time to heal and during this period, it is extremely vital for the diabetic patient to be diligent in their wound care. However, in spite of taking all the necessary precautions and measures sometimes, the wounds fail to heal leading to serious feet complications requiring surgery.
Ok then, so who do I see?
While a diabetic consultant is a good start, your best bet for your feet would be a podiatrist or a foot health practitioner, depending on your case. If you are injured and it’s been long since the injury healed, see a podiatrist (specializing in the surgery aspect of foot health). If you’d just like a foot massage ( helps in the lower limb blood circulation), have a pedicure, foot spa or would like to consult about your feet, the right shoes or other aspects of your daily foot life, your FHP (foot health practitioner) would be of a great help.
Meanwhile, I’d like to start caring for my feet at home. Any pointers?
If you are diabetic, you can start caring for your feet right away. You don’t need to wait for your podiatrist or consultant’s appointment to do so. Here are a few ideas:
• Look after your feet every day. Check for any injury or sign of fungal infection (especially around your toenails) or blisters. If you find anything suspicious, try cleaning the wound with an antiseptic lotion and keep the wound dry to prevent infection. Wash your feet everyday with lukewarm water, especially between your toes. Then dry them thoroughly with a towel (I’d suggest you keep a towel exclusively for your feet). If you have ingrown toe nails, corns, calluses or any kind of wart, report it to your doctor immediately. Don’t try to treat it yourself.
• Wear shoes or sandals such that your feet are comfortable. Let your feet breathe and avoid wearing any shoe wear that is tight. Wear socks to protect your feet.
• Keep your blood sugar level in control. Even if a small wound is present (sometimes, you may not know that you got hit and won’t feel the pain either), it will heal slowly on its own provided that the blood sugar is in check.
• Exfoliate and moisturize your feet. If you can do this yourself, great! And if you can’t, take an appointment with your foot health practitioner who’d pamper your feet and will give them the treatment they deserve.
• If you have any minor injuries, follow the first aid measures. Don’t wait for your practitioner to treat your wound. Avoid using heating pads and check the water temperature with your elbow and not using your feet.
• Exercise- this would help proper blood circulation in areas that are hard to reach. There are specific feet exercises (such as moving your feet clock-wise 5 times and then anti-clock wise 5 times and wiggling your feet up & down) that can help the diabetics feel good.
• Try alternative medical therapies for your feet such as reflexology and acupressure. These therapies aid in proper blood circulation to your feet and would ensure that your feet are healthy all the time.
About Fatmah Azam Ali
Fatmah Azam Ali is a Certified Health Specialist (C.H.S.) and an N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy) candidate in the Clayton College of Natural Health. She is a Certified Nutritional Counselor (C.N.C.) and a Stress Management Consultant as well. As a freelance journalist with over six years of writing experience, she has written over hundreds of articles on health, fitness, alternative medicine and many more for national and international publications- online and print. Get to know her at: http://naturedoctorfatmah.wordpress.com