As your Foot Care Nurse, I cannot advocate enough for healthy feet. If you tell me you want your feet to be healthy, I won’t be the one who will step in your way. But if you’re a diabetic, you must know that your feet need to be healthy 365 days out of the year. With everything a diabetic person needs to manage, foot care can be easily forgotten. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor blood circulation to the legs and feet, which can result in lower limb complications. This means that a diabetic is likely to not feel a foot injury because of the loss of sensation due to the nerve damage. In return, the injury can be difficult to heal because of poor blood circulation. Small injuries, such as cuts and blisters, can quickly turn into serious infections potentially leading to limb loss. More than 80% of leg amputations are due to non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. (source: www.diabetes.ca and www.woundscan ada.ca)
I’m not here to scare you. Instead, I want to take this time to educate and raise awareness about the importance of Diabetic Foot Care and Preventing Lower Limb Loss. When I was a nursing student (many many full moons ago), one of my first patients was a diabetic who had just woken up from a leg amputation surgery. I knew from the look on his face and on his wife’s face that their lives had changed forever. And as a Foot Care Nurse today, I want to prevent this look from happening in my community.
Here a few steps on how you can keep your feet healthy. Healthy Soles = Happy Soul!
- Check your feet daily. Use a small mirror or ask for help: check for dry skin, cracks, blisters, cuts, scratches, ingrown toenails and other skin and nail diseases. Look to see if there is any redness or swelling, as this needs to be report immediately to your primary healthcare provider. Never “pop” a blister! This can lead to an ulcer and have devastating consequences. Instead, cover it with a bandage until the fluids are absorbed back into your body.
- Wash your feet daily using mild soap and dry well between your toes. Your feet are subject to dark and moist environment everyday (shoes and socks) which is the perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive in. Using a mild soap, free from harsh and irritating perfumes, keeps your feet clean and healthy. Your feet need to be pat dry, especially between the toes, to reduce the chance bacteria growth.
- When washing your feet, always check the water temperature. Wash your feet with warm water, as hot water can cause burns and skin damages.
- Avoid soaking your feet. Soaking feels great, but it actually opens your skin pores, which can be inviting for bacteria and other microorganisms.
- Apply a urea-based moisturizer to your feet daily to keep your skin soft. Avoid moisturizing between your toes. Urea is used to treat dry skin conditions as it keeps skin moisture in. This prevents dry skin and cracks on your feet. Need help with products? We carry two lines of professional foot care products (that aren’t found in drug stores) and that are known to be safe for diabetics.
- Wear fresh socks daily. Your feet deserve clean socks. Period. Do not wear socks that are tight.
- Avoid walking barefoot: indoors and outdoors. Let me rephrase… NEVER go barefoot. Always protect your feet with proper indoor and outdoor footwear.
- Wear properly fitted shoes that offer support, stability and comfort. Shoes should not feel tight. You should be able to move your toes freely. At the same time, they cannot be to big because that would cause your feet to move/rub a lot inside the shoe, which can lead to calluses and ulcers. Need help with shoes? We carry a line of quality footwear so you can keep your feet moving. We do measurements at our clinic so you get a pair shoes that fit you properly!
- Check the inside of your shoes before wearing them. Look and feel the inside of your shoes before wearing them. Even a small rock or a rough area inside the shoe can causes foot complications.
- Get your diabetic foot screening and care done by a health professional who specializes in advanced foot care. As your Foot Specialist, I perform a Diabetic Foot Screen and Neuropathy testing which indicates your risk level. Even if you are at low risk, you should have these tests performed annually. This is part of your routine check-up!
- Corns, calluses, ingrown toenails, fungal toenail and other conditions should be treated by a medical professional. Do not treat them yourself or at a nail spa. Do not cut or shave off your calluses. Do not use corn removers from the drug store as some of them contain up to 40% salicylic acid which can damage your skin. Needs help with your foot care? Contact me and I’d be more than happy to help out! That’s why I became a Nurse!
- Report any signs of infection to your doctor immediately such as swelling, warmth, pain or redness. Here is what I learned in my 8 years of Nursing: Infection = Antibiotics. Time is tissue. Period.
- Verify your blood sugar levels and have your health team help you control it. The best way to control your blood sugar is to KNOW your blood sugar level. This means that you need to CHECK your blood sugar at home. High and uncontrolled blood sugar levels are what causes nerve damage in the legs which can have devastating consequences. Need help with managing your blood sugar? Our Registered Holistic Nutritionist offers a free discovery session on our available programs to help you eat healthier.
By working together, we can increase awareness and prevent diabetic foot complications. By working together, we can end lower limb diabetic amputations and keep our loved ones and our community strong on their feet!
Interested in having us as part of your health care team? Call us to book your appointment or drop by to pick up our Diabetic Foot Care Brochure filled with our daily foot care tips!
“I marvel that society would pay a surgeon a large sum of money to remove a person’s leg – but nothing to save it” George Bernard Shaw.