Simple Tips to Preserve Diabetic Foot Health

The most common reason diabetics are hospitalized in the United States is foot infections. I know that’s hard to believe, but true. Diabetes can be dangerous and devastating to your feet. The most common causes of these foot infections are improperly cut toenails and poorly fitting shoes. Yes, something as simple as a visit to the podiatrist to have your toenails cut and shoes custom fitted can avoid many amputations. Sadly, the amputation rate is trending upwards not down in the United States. Add common complications of diabetes like poor circulation and lack of feeling known as peripheral neuropathy, and you have the prescription for disaster for diabetic feet.

What is a diabetic to do to protect their feet from a sore that can lead to infection and amputation?

1. Inspect your feet daily. If you can’t see your feet, have someone else look at them every day for redness, cuts, swelling, blisters, bruising, or nail problems.

2. Wash your feet daily. Sounds simple, but many people do not bathe their feet daily. Make sure to clean in between your toes and dry them thoroughly.

3. Moisturize your feet daily. Again, a simple habit to get in to, yet most people fail to upkeep their skin every day. Diabetes can cause very dry, flaky skin, so extra moisture is needed.

4. Cut nails very carefully, and straight across. If you can see and reach your toes, be careful to cut your toenails carefully, taking time not to nick yourself or cut them too short. When in doubt, visit the podiatrist at least every 8 to 10 weeks. The podiatrist would rather cut your toenails for you than treat an infection caused by your own handiwork!

5. Never trim corns and calluses. And absolutely no corn or callus remover! The package says, “Do not use if you are diabetic” for a reason. Have the podiatrist trim them when they are thickened or red.

6. Wear clean, dry socks. And change them daily…..sounds simple, but you would not believe how many people don’t.

7. Avoid tight or bulky socks. Tight socks can reduce circulation to you feet and bulky socks can bunch up and cause a blister or sore. Check your socks before you put them on and remember that they do shrink with age. Replace them periodically.

8. Wear socks to bed. If your feet are cold, wear clean socks to bed. Never use a heating pad or hot water bottle, you can burn yourself before you realize it! You can warm the bed with a heating blanket, but turn it off before you go to sleep!

9. Shake out your shoes and inspect them before you put them on. I have taken everything from a pebble, piece of basket and a doll house chair out of the bottom of diabetic feet after they walked on them all day. Easy thing to avoid!

10. Keep your feet clean and dry. No puddle splashing or snow drifts for your feet!

11. Never, never, never go barefoot. Not even at home on carpet. You can step on something easily and get an infected puncture wound. Think tacks, sewing needles, even wiry dog hair can be a problem!

12. Take care of your diabetes! Multiple studies have shown the complications of diabetes can be diminished by keeping your sugars under control. Keep that HgA1c under 6 if you can. This is hard to do by yourself. Work with your doctor and nutritionist for optimal care. Communicate often with your medical team.

13. Don’t Smoke! Stop smoking if you do. Ever cigarette decreases the circulation to your feet and increases your chance of a non-healing wound.

14. Get periodic foot exams. The recommendations are to have a foot exam at least once a year by your doctor even if you have no foot symptioms. A trip to the podiatrist is recommended at least quarterly if you have neuropathy, a foot deformity, poor circulation, or have had a history of a foot ulcer.

Find the Shoe For You! Shoe Fitting Tips For Foot Health

Shoe shopping can be a nightmare! The wrong shoes can cause or aggravate foot ailments. The right shoes can often prevent – but cannot correct – problems. So wearing the right shoes is vital to foot health. Follow these simple suggestions when picking out shoes. If problems persist, visit your podiatrist. They will be happy to help you.

Construction:

Leather is best because is breathes like skin and molds to your foot. But cheaper canvas is fine for fast-growing children. Breathable mesh is also good especially in athletic shoes. Soles should be strong and flexible with a good gripping surface.

Insoles should be cushioned to absorb the jolts of walking on hard surfaces, but have enough arch support for your foot type. Some people require custom insoles for good foot health and comfort. Arch supports distribute weight over a wider area. Rigid shanks also give added support.

High heels can be fun and look good, but they should not be worn too long at a stretch or for much walking. Besides cramping the toes, they change the biomechanics of your whole body making back pain, foot strains and aggravation of foot deformities more likely.

Thongs and ballerina flats with no support are just as bad and can cause and aggravate many foot ailments.

Fit:

Only you can tell if shoes fit. If they aren’t comfortable, don’t buy them! Many podiatrists and certified pedorthists have a digital fitting system that can scan your feet and suggest the proper shoe size. This can help! Don’t be surprised if you are wearing two shoe sizes too small. Most people wear their shoes at least a half a size too small! This includes men as well as women.

Don’t plan on shoes stretching with wear. Many times shoes can be stretched if you find that the ones you own are too tight. Better advice would be to replace them.

Because feet spread with age, have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Especially if you have had recent weight gain or pregnancy. Always measure both feet: they are often slightly different sizes. Always buy shoes for the BIGGEST foot.

Go shoe shopping late in the afternoon. Feet swell to their largest later in the day. If you must buy shoes in the morning, buy them slightly larger.

Size depends on shoe make and style, too. The number is just that…a number! Don’t insist you always wear one size if the next feels better. Remember the size is merely a suggested number and changes with brand and style.

Wiggle your toes to make sure you have enough room in the toe box. You should have one thumb width from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. Remember this may be your second toe not your great toe.

Your forefoot should NOT be wider than your shoe. Look to see if your foot is spreading out over the sole of the shoes at the sides.

Unfortunately, most shoes today are narrower in the front than the foot is. You can check this by standing on paper and tracing around your bare foot. Compare the outline of your foot with the sole of your shoe. If your shoe appears too narrow, you may be inviting foot problems. Choose only shoes that feel comfortable – you are the best judge of that.

High Heels Give Low Hope For Foot Health

Are you addicted to heels? Do you love the way your legs look when you wear them? Could you not live without them?

Ok, would you like to spend one quarter of your life in your glamorous heels and one half of it in agony with really ugly feet? That’s what you could potentially cause to happen if you rely on your high heels on a daily basis during your most active, on-your-feet years.

High heels displace the weight of your body onto the ball of your foot. Over time, feet can develop calluses, unsightly bunions and corns. With those kinds of feet, you’d better hope that Manolo Blahnik starts designing slippers!

High heels also direct the centre mass of your body forward and your spine has to bend backwards to compensate. “Oh my aching back” will be your daily mantra.

Calf muscles shorten and tighten when you wear high heels and if you wear them constantly for a long time, say more than six months, your calf muscles can remain permanently shortened. Your body will naturally try to compensate by lowering the arches of your feet or your knees, hips or back will be painfully affected.

How to enjoy your high heels but not do long-term damage

1. Wear shoes with heels no higher than 4cm for day-to-day wear.

2. Save your sexy high heels for special occasions.

3. Avoid wearing backless shoes too frequently as they make you claw your toes when you walk.

4. Stretch your calf muscles at regular intervals.

5. Alternate your shoes over a long day of standing. Keep a second pair at work so that you can switch heights during the day and give your calf muscles a chance to adapt.

6. Never walk long distances or over uneven ground such as pavements when wearing high heels.

7. High heels that feature a strap or lace across the instep are more beneficial than slip-ons as they help to stop your foot from sliding forwards.

8. See your podiatrist or chiropodist once a year for checkups on your foot health.

The Importance of Foot Hygiene in Foot Health

The importance of good foot hygiene goes far beyond the need to keep the feet from becoming dirty and developing odor. Proper foot hygiene can prevent the development of numerous foot problems, and for some individuals may save their leg from amputation. This article will discuss the way people can properly care for their feet and keep them healthy for years to come.

Foot cleanliness is an important part of keeping the body clean. Anyone who has ever walked barefoot can relate to that when the soles of the feet become soiled. However, even those who wear shoes all the time are still at risk for ‘soiling’ of the feet. This soiling comes not from dirt but from the natural shedding of the skin, combined with sweat residue, sock lint, or shoe debris if one does not wear socks. All of this material provides a good platform upon which bacteria and fungus can accumulate, and eventually this can cause skin infections. The most common infection seen in the skin is that from a fungus.

This infection is commonly called Athlete’s foot, and millions of humans (if not nearly all) suffer from this condition from time to time. While this condition is easily treated, the long term presence of fungus can distract the skin’s immune system and lead to the sneaking in of bacteria into the cracks and skin ripples that are found in Athlete’s foot. Bacteria is also present in soil and on walking surfaces exposed to other bacteria (like in kitchens and baths), and barefoot walking can potentially expose the skin to these organisms. Bacterial infections are not as benign as Athlete’s foot, and can enter the skin and spread up the foot into the body. For diabetics and others whose immune system is not as strong, these infections can pose a serious risk to the health of the foot and leg, and occasionally they result in an amputation if the infection is serious enough.

By washing the foot, especially in between the toes, the debris and soil that fungus and bacteria accumulates on is removed, and the skin is left with a healthy top surface. Vigorous scrubbing is not necessary, and can lead to skin irritation if one is too aggressive. Careful removal of soap residue is needed, as is the careful drying of the foot and toes to prevent skin irritation from lengthy water exposure.

Another important aspect of good foot hygiene is to keep the feet well moisturized. From time to time, especially in the winter, the foot skin will dry out. For some, this is a result of genetics or diseases which reduce the moisturization of the skin. With drier skin comes more cracks and crevasses that bacteria and fungus can use to enter the skin. Dry skin can also potentially painful cracks so deep that a wound develops. The practice of soaking the foot to either make it moister or to remove fungus or bacteria only makes this worse, as soaking depletes the skin of vital oils that help keep it moist. Some bacteria also thrive in foot baths, and frequent soaking can sometimes cause infections. The daily application of a good moisturizing cream to the feet can keep the skin moist and its surface smooth. It is important not to place the moisturizing cream in between the toes, as this area is at risk for fungus development that can also follow overly moist toe spaces.

Toenails are often ignored when foot hygiene is taken into consideration. Like every other part of the foot, the toenails need care and maintenance to prevent problems from developing. Nails that are too long are at greater risk of breaking off when the toe is stubbed. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and possibly infection of the skin around the nail itself. Nail damage can also lead to the introduction of fungus under the nail itself. The nail will become discolored, thickened, and misshapen from this infection. It is treatable, but a nail fungus infection requires a lot of time for eradication. Keeping the nails short can prevent some of this nail injury by reducing the likelihood of the nail lifting up during an injury event. In turn, this can reduce the chance that a nail fungus will develop. Although generally benign, nail fungus is still a chronic infection and should be avoided. However, not all changes to a nail’s color or appearance is simply a fungus. Any color change in a toenail should be evaluated by a foot specialist or dermatologist, as some skin cancers or body-wide disease appear as changes to a toenail.

When trimming nails, care must be taken not to cut too deep into the skin sides. The reason for this involves ingrown nails. Ingrown nails develop as a result of genetics or gradual pressure injury to a nail. Contrary to popular belief, they are not caused by cutting the nail, as the nail grows from the deep end of the toe, which is not affected by the way it is cut. However, by cutting the nail too short into the side of the skin, one irritates the skin. A reaction then develops which causes skin inflammation. The inflamed skin becomes irritated against the ingrown nail that did not previously bother it, and pain subsequently is felt. Infection can follow as bacteria becomes trapped within the swollen skin border. While this condition is easily and permanently treated in-office by a foot specialist, avoiding it by trimming the nails without cutting into the skin may be an easier option.

Properly fitting shoes are another consideration in foot hygiene. Shoes are worn for many reasons, although the basic reason for shoes is to protect the feet from the ground. This protection is at risk when one wears poorly fitting shoes simply for fashion or convenience. Shoes that are too tight, too narrow, or too shallow will cause skin irritation to occur where the shoe rubs the skin. If the irritated area is over a prominent bone, such as on the toes or sides of the foot, the skin may start a process to protect itself. This process leads to the formation of corns and calluses, which is simply a thickening of the top layer of the skin created to protect the skin. Corns and calluses can cause pain, and in some cases (especially in diabetics and the elderly) can lead to the development of wounds underneath them. By reducing the shoe pressure on the skin through the use of a properly sized and fitted shoe, the development of corns and calluses can be slowed or even eliminated.

When a shoe is worn that is too big for the foot, the foot will move and piston within the shoe during walking. This ultimately can lead to toenail bruising as well as foot pain. When purchasing shoes, one’s foot should be measured by a knowledgeable shoe clerk and the shoe fitted to that size, considering length AND width. A foot’s width is often ignored when purchasing shoes, especially given that many retailers have scaled back the selection of different widths in stock. In the long run, purchasing shoes at a quality shoe store that carries many widths is better that the convenience of a discount retailer that has more styles but less sizing variations. The style of the shoe needs to be considered as well. Someone with a wide foot due to bunions and flat feet should not be in a tight pair of pointed flats. Unfortunately, many people stubbornly refuse to change shoe types out of concern for fashion or the inability to change old habits.

As one can see, the importance of foot hygiene involves much more that just the act of keeping the foot free from dirt and odor. Keeping the skin and nails healthy prevents the development of infections, and keeping the skin smooth and comfortable prevents the development of painful lesions that can limit activity and the enjoyment of life. Making time for the foot during daily body care can pay off in a big way over the long run.

Why Comfortable Shoes Are Critical to Foot Health and Well Being

There is one simple reason why comfortable shoes are critical and it’s because what can damage your feet can damage all the other parts of your body that work in conjunction with your feet to move you around comfortably. If your feet are in pain, it’s only natural that your ankles, knees and hips will be forced to compensate for the problem which can result in much bigger problems overall.

The foot is a complex structure and because of this, many things can go wrong or be negatively affected just by the type of shoes we wear. A woman who spends extended periods of time in high heels can end up with problems like bunions, corns, hammer toes and metatarsalgia. Not just that, but the calf muscle can actually shorten from the unnatural position with most of the body weight forced to the front of the foot. Heels are probably the worst type of shoe for your feet, but if shoes don’t have enough support or cause pain, then those are not good shoes for your feet.

Shoes are meant to protect your feet, not hurt them. Most people will sacrifice some comfort in the name of fashion, but this should not be done on a regular basis, but rather on occasion. Considering the ripple effect foot problems can have on other parts of your body, common sense should tell us to wear comfortable shoes, but there is a chance, that a good number of people don’t realize this, resulting in 75 percent of adults experiencing foot pain or problematic conditions.

Shoes that cause discomfort can result in ongoing problems in different parts of the foot including the ball, the heel and the arch. Many painful foot conditions can be remedied simply by wearing well-fitting, comfortable shoes. One of the problems is that not everyone knows what well-fitting shoes are. People have gotten so used to foot pain, that they believe that it’s normal. The truth is; the right pair of shoes should allow you to stand and walk comfortably for extended periods, unless you are already suffering from a painful condition.

One look at the wide variety of foot products in a pharmacy should tell you that a lot of people are suffering from foot pain. Everything from metatarsal pads, to cushioned insoles to gel heel cups are made to relieve some type of painful foot condition. A comfortable pair of sneakers is probably the best you can do for your feet. However, not everyone is able to wear these kinds of shoes to work or every day, but there are plenty of options on the market that would be suitable in a work environment that would still allow your feet the comfort they deserve.

What to look for? You want a pair of shoes that will allow your feet to be in a natural position including a little bit of wiggle room for your toes. There should be good arch support, especially if you suffer from flat feet. The fit should be comfortable and if you haven’t had your feet measured in awhile, it might be a good idea to know that size that best fits you and keep your feet pain free.