Diabetic Foot Care
It’s very important to look after your feet if you have diabetes as it can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling. This means that foot injuries may not heal well, and you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured. Keeping your blood sugar levels under good control will help to reduce this risk.
Foot care tips for diabetics:
• Keep your feet clean and free from infection.
• Wear shoes that fit well and don’t squeeze or rub.
• Don’t walk barefoot to avoid cuts and grazes to your feet.
• Avoid sitting with legs crossed so as not to constrict blood circulation.
• Cut or file your toenails regularly; get professional help with this if you can’t manage.
• Get corns or hard skin treated by a professional.
• Keep your appointments with your diabetic specialist nurse who checks many aspects of your health.
Corns are excessive growths of skin. They are generally caused by pressure or friction on the foot.
When corns appear on weight-bearing areas of the foot, the pressure on the underlying skin layers caused by the corn can make them very uncomfortable and quite painful to walk on. The most common cause of corns and calluses is shoes that don’t fit.
Corns may possibly go away by themselves if the pressure or friction on the foot is removed, but this can take quite a while. A corn will almost certainly return, if the pressure or friction comes back.
Calluses are hard, thickened areas of skin. They can develop on the hands or feet. They are often found around the heel or under the ball of the foot as these areas take most weight when you walk.
Callused skin is thick and often less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin. Calluses are bigger than corns and aren’t as well defined.
When the skin rubs frequently against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground, calluses may develop. Other causes of calluses include dry skin and, sometimes in older people, reduced fatty padding under the balls of the feet.
Dry, cracked heels can be a source of pain and can look unsightly. Cracked heels are usually caused by dry, thickened skin splitting under pressure.
• Walking barefoot or in footwear such as thronged sandals can dry out the feet
• Some peoples’ heels get thick and callused whilst others don’t have callus but still crack badly – sometimes it is genetic!
• Long periods of standing on hard floors.
• Increased weight causes more pressure on the heels leading to callus.
• Ill fitting shoes that allow the heels to expand sideways under pressure.
• Some medical conditions
• Remove dead skin by filing and apply cracked heel cream daily at least, twice daily if possible.
• Wear well fitting shoes.
• Take the weight off your feet where possible, lose weight if needed.
• Wear closed shoes and socks where possible to help to prevent heels drying.
Our nail cutting service is available to those who have impaired eyesight, reduced mobility because of arthritic changes, or an inability to reach their feet for physical or medical reasons.
The service is also for when it would not be safe or practical for you to take on this task yourself.
This develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin. The big toe is most commonly affected. The nail curls and pierces the skin, which becomes red, swollen and tender.
• Pain if pressure is placed on the toe
• Inflammation of the skin at the end of the toe
• A build-up of fluid in the area surrounding the toe
• An overgrowth of skin around the affected toe
• White or yellow pus coming from the affected area
• Badly cut toenails i.e. cutting toenails too short, or cutting the edges.
• Tight fitting shoes, socks or tights putting pressure on the skin around the toenail.
• Sweaty feet – if the skin around toenails is soft, it’s easier for the nail to pierce the skin.
• Injury – for example, stubbing a toe.
• Natural shape of the nail – curved or fan-shaped toenails are more likely to press into the skin surrounding the nail.
Try to prevent by:
• Cutting your toenails properly – straight across, not at an angle or down the edges and not too short.
• Gently ease the skin away from the nail using a cotton bud.
• Wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly.
• Keeping feet clean and dry.
• Avoid wearing tight socks and stockings/tights.
Fungal nail infections are common. They not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat. The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become thickened and distorted. It can spread to other people, so steps should be taken to avoid this.
• Discolouration of the nail – it may turn white, yellow or green.
• Thickening and distortion of the nail – it may become difficult to trim.
• Pain or discomfort – particularly under pressure on the affected toe.
• Brittle or crumbly nails – pieces may break off and come away.
• Skin nearby may become infected and be itchy, cracked, red and swollen.
Most fungal nail infections are caused by the fungi that cause Athlete’s Foot. You’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
• Don’t keep your feet clean and dry
• Wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
• Walk around barefoot where fungal infections can spread easily, e.g. communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
• Have damaged your nails
• Have a weakened immune system
• Have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes, psoriasis, peripheral arterial disease.
Fungal infection can be difficult to eradicate and you may feel it’s not worth treating.
Whether you decide to have treatment or not, still practice good foot hygiene to stop the infection getting worse or spreading to others.
Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you’re bothered by the appearance of the affected nail, or it’s causing problems such as pain and discomfort. They’ll probably recommend:
• Antifungal nail paints – special paints applied directly to the nail over several months
• A less conventional treatment is Tea-tree oil daily to affected nails – may at least prevent the infection getting worse.
• Antifungal tablets– depending on your medical history.
Removing the nail completely may be recommended in severe cases. Laser treatment is also an option but is only available privately and can be expensive.
To reduce your risk of getting fungal nails:
• Keep your feet clean and dry.
• Wear well-fitting shoes made of natural materials and clean cotton socks to let your feet “breathe”.
• Keep nails short – don’t share clippers or scissors with others.
• Don’t share towels and socks with other people.
• Don’t walk around barefoot in public areas.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that usually appears between or under the toes or the bottom of the feet. Affected skin may be itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked or blistered. It should be treated to stop the fungus spreading to other parts of the body or to other people. It may spread around your foot and to your toenails. Scratching infected skin and then touching other parts of your body can spread the infection.
Treatment usually involves pharmacy-bought creams, sprays or liquids and good foot hygiene.
To reduce your chance of getting Athlete’s foot:
• Keep your feet clean and dry
• Don’t wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
• Don’t walk around barefoot where fungal infections can spread easily such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
• Don’t share towels, socks and shoes