Steven Weinshel, MD, JD – Medical Co-Director Neurogenx NerveCenter of Sarasota
Board Certified in Neurological Surgery
Neurogenx Medical Advisor

If you have diabetic neuropathy, at home foot care is a “must do”.  All diabetics need to take good care of their feet but for those with diabetic neuropathy, foot care is even more important.  Your doctor should examine your feet at least once a year but at home foot care for diabetic neuropathy is a daily routine.

Anyone with diabetes is at high risk for foot amputation for several reasons.  The disease causes an increased risk of fungal skin infections, decreased blood supply to the extremities and inadequate wound healing abilities, which can turn a minor foot injury into a severe medical issue.  It also increases the risk of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetics who have developed nerve damage or have diabetic neuropathy, may lose sensation in their feet and be unable to tell when the skin is inflamed or an injury has occurred.  A regular at home foot care regimen can help decrease the chance of developing a serious infection.

  • Inspect every inch. On a daily basis, make sure your whole foot is healthy.  Wiggle and move your toes and look for any skin breakdown.  Rashes, bumps, redness or discoloration should be treated immediately.
  • Clean feet daily. Make sure you get between the toes and any buildup under the toenails.  make sure that your feet are completely dry before you quit.   Keeping them clean and dry will minimize the risk of fungal or other infections.
  • Keep them dry. To reduce the chance of a fungal infection, make sure that your feet stay dry.  After washing, dry them off completely and wear socks with your shoes.
  • Trimming your toenails. Don’t cut too short.  Reduce the chance for an ingrown toenail by only trimming straight across.  Your health care provider can trim them for you if you can’t.
  • Calluses, Corns and Cuticles. Don’t use any metal or sharp objects to trim the cuticles or remove corns or calluses.  In some cases, you can use a pumice stone to remove skin buildup but ask your health care provider for assistance if needed.
  • Don’t go barefoot. Even around the house you should be protecting your feet by wearing shoes or slippers.  Outdoors, wear only sturdy shoes with clean socks.
  • Get good shoes. Your shoes should fit well and completely cover your feet.  Shoes should be worn with socks all of the time.  You may do fine with cotton socks but some people prefer support socks or specially designed diabetic socks.
  • Check your shoes. Before putting your shoes on, check the insides for irritants. Make sure there are no pebbles or splinters that can injure your foot and that the shoe is in good repair.  Replace worn shoes immediately.
  • See a specialist. Your feet should be checked at least once a year by your doctor but if any problems arise, you should seek medical treatment.  Your health care team may already include a foot specialist and you should take advantage of that expertise if you have access.  A foot specialist can advise on shoe selection, offer assistance with foot care, and will attend to more serious concerns like bunions.

Foot care is essential for anyone with diabetes, but if you have diabetic neuropathy, a regular foot care routine is essential to minimize the chance for serious problems.

Sources:
American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/peripheral-neuropathy-foot-skin-care