Here in Toronto, diabetic nursing foot care clients of McDermott Footcare are beginning to feel the change in weather. With the cooler temperatures, many clients are wearing thicker clothing, including socks and closed-toe shoes instead of sandals. Cooler temperatures call for a change in foot care routines to ensure the continued health of people living with diabetes.
Here are 8 diabetic foot care tips for a safe, healthy autumn and winter:
- Socks: Wear thick, breathable socks that wick away moisture. Feet continue to sweat in colder temperatures and it is important to wear socks that promote air circulation and wick away perspiration.
- Keep feet dry: This goes hand in hand with the advice above. It is important to keep feet dry. Feet that are allowed to remain damp may develop fungal and bacterial infections. Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing or after becoming wet from exposure. Pay particular attention to drying the area between the toes since this is where athlete’s foot infections most commonly develop.
- Proper footwear: Wear boots and shoes with a rounded toe box that allows the toes to wriggle comfortably. At the same time, foot wear should fit properly so that the foot is secure. Choose leather and suede over synthetic material since natural materials allow air circulation to the foot. Look for foot wear with adequate traction. Boots and shoes should provide sufficient warmth since diabetic neuropathy may prevent the person from realizing that their feet are becoming cold.
- Foot soaks: Soaking the feet should only be done occasionally. Ten minutes is a safe amount of time to prevent over-drying or maceration of the skin. Maintain a lukewarm water temperature of 90 degrees fahrenheit (32 degrees celsius). Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature or have a non-diabetic person test the water first.
- Heated massagers, hot water bottles and heat pads: Because of neuropathy, diabetics have a decreased ability to feel hot temperatures on the feet. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid heated foot massagers, heat pads and hot water bottles.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: During the winter months, it is advisable to use an extra emollient moisturizer on the feet. Keeping the feet moisturized prevents heel cracks and fissures that are painful and are prone to infection. Avoid moisturizing between toes since added moisture encourages bacterial and fungal skin infections. Ask your certified foot care nurse or doctor to recommend a suitable moisturizer.
- Check your feet: Inspect your feet daily for swelling, heel cracks, dryness, open sores, cuts, bruises, blisters, corns, calluses. Check for peeling and dampness between the toes since this is a symptom of athlete’s foot. Use a hand-held mirror to check the soles of the feet.
- Nail care: Have a certified foot care nurse clip and file your nails regularly. Nails should be clipped straight across. Thickened, fungal nails should be filed down.
Copyright Terry McDermott. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission of author