Diabetics have a lot of things to keep track of, but simply avoiding these 7 common mistakes can make the difference between healthy, happy feet and amputation.
- Skipping visits to the podiatrist. Not to toot our own horn, but visiting the podiatrist is one of the most important things you can do for your diabetic feet. There are conditions that are easily cured in the beginning stages, but can result in limb loss if left too long. For example, diabetic wounds and Charcot (the deterioration and warping of foot bones) are both treated with simple, noninvasive measures if caught early, but in the later stages, these are serious conditions that require intensive treatment that may not always be successful.
- Wearing the wrong shoes. Diabetic shoes can be expensive, but they are a lot less expensive (financially, emotionally and physically) than invasive surgery that can be needed after consistently wearing the wrong shoes. The wide toe box, protective cushioning, and proper fit of diabetic shoes are for the protection of your feet. Don’t ignore this easy way to prevent diabetic foot complications.
- Attempting “bathroom surgery” on your own feet. This is never a good idea, but especially for diabetics. It can be tempting to just cut off a corn, wart or ingrown yourself, but this can result in more damage. It may seem like a simple procedure, but podiatrists have been heavily trained to complete these treatments. Attempting to complete a procedure like this yourself can result in infection, poor healing, permanent foot damage, excessive scarring and recurrence of the problem.
- Skipping sunscreen on your feet. Don’t forget about the skin on your feet when you hit the pool. Skin cancer is common on the feet because they are so often skipped over when applying sunscreen. Skin cancer is extremely dangerous, and even if it is removed from the foot successfully, you run the risk of the surgical wound not healing and turning into a diabetic wounds.
- Cutting toenails yourself. Diabetics often can’t feel their toes and the nails or may even have thick, brittle toenails. Cutting the toenails too short or jagged, or even cutting the toe you can’t feel can result in ingrown toenails and wounds. Getting toenails trimmed by a doctor will ensure your toenails are smooth and an appropriate length, without risking injury to the toes.
- Using tobacco products. Diabetics who use tobacco are much more likely to suffer amputation and diabetic foot wounds. Tobacco has been shown to decrease blood flow to the feet. Smoking is one of the worst things for your health that is entirely preventable. To get help and tips for quitting, call the Utah Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW(784-8669)
- Slacking on foot inspections. It may seem redundant to inspect feet every day, but it is an important step in preventing major problems. Especially if you have neuropathy, you may not notice small injuries or wounds forming on your feet. Inspect your feet when you put your shoes on or off so you notice problems right away. Addressing small problems immediately is simple, and can help you avoid invasive treatment later on.