Did you know that high blood sugar can actually damage nerves in your body? People with diabetes are more prone to have peripheral neuropathy, a condition that can numb the feeling in both your hands and your feet.
This condition makes it difficult to feel an injury or sore area. Because high blood sugar also interferes with the wound healing response, people with diabetes may experience difficulties in healing.
Tend to your feet
While most of us tend to see our hands constantly during the day, we don’t often take the time to check our feet. That’s why practicing self-care to protect your feet and keep them healthy is important.
- Inspect your feet daily for potential problems such as redness, blisters, cracks, excessively dry skin or numbness. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet, you can use a mirror or ask someone for help. You can purchase a telescoping mirror or a mirrored bathroom scale to aid in inspecting your feet.
- Wash your feet with warm water – not hot – and dry your feet well.
- Use a moisturizing cream or lotion to relieve dry skin on the tops and bottoms of your feet, but don’t apply it between your toes.
- If you have corns or calluses, do not treat these yourself. Talk to your healthcare provider or a podiatrist (foot doctor).
- Use a nail clipper or file instead of sharp blades to trim nails.
- Don’t use a heating pad on your feet, especially if you have neuropathy. You could burn your feet without feeling pain. Neuropathy can cause numbness and loss of pain sensation.
- Have your feet checked annually by a podiatrist. If you have foot problems, history of foot wounds, or foot deformities, seeing a podiatrist more frequently is recommended.
Wear proper gear
Wearing the right footwear when exercising and for everyday wear is also important. Most people with diabetes do not require specialized footwear, just well-fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Avoid walking barefoot, even indoors.
- Shoes should provide support without being too loose or too tight.
- Shoes should not rub when you walk.
- Always wear socks with shoes.
- Wear soft, seamless well-padded socks for activity. Cotton or microfiber socks absorb sweat and keep feet dry.
- If you have areas of your feet damaged by excessive pressure, you may require special shoes or custom inserts to re-distribute pressure.
Get your blood pumping
Peripheral neuropathy can affect balance and gait. Because people with peripheral neuropathy have decreased sensation, they experience reduced or even absent sensory input from nerves in their feet. This puts the person at increased risk for falls and injury.
Regular exercise can help improve blood flow to your feet and improve strength, flexibility and balance. Exercises like walking, riding a bike and stretching are good choices. Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.