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According to the American Diabetes Association, about 15.7 million people (5.9 percent of the United States population) have diabetes. Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause diabetics to lose feeling in their feet or hands.

Foot problems are a big risk in diabetics. Diabetics must constantly monitor their feet or else they may face severe consequences, including amputation.

With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that's too tight can cause a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal. When a wound is not healing, it's at risk for infection. As a diabetic, infections spread quickly. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet every day. Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts and nail problems. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror.

Here's some basic advice for taking care of your feet:

  • Always keep your feet warm.
  • Don't get your feet wet in snow or rain.
  • Don't put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.
  • Don't smoke or sit cross-legged. Both decrease blood supply to your feet.
  • Don't soak your feet.
  • Don't use antiseptic solutions, drugstore medications, heating pads or sharp instruments on your feet.
  • Trim your toenails straight across. Avoid cutting the corners. Use a nail file or emery board. If you find an ingrown toenail, contact our office.
  • Use lotion to keep the skin of your feet soft and moist, but don't put any lotion between your toes.
  • Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water.
  • When drying your feet, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.
  • Buy shoes that are comfortable without a "breaking in" period. Check how your shoe fits in width, length, back, bottom of heel, and sole. Avoid pointed-toe styles. Try to get shoes made with deep toe boxes. Wear new shoes for only two hours or less at a time. Don't wear the same pair everyday. Inspect the inside of each shoe before putting it on, looking for either something that might have fallen in, or a torn innersole. When buying new shoes, make sure that you wear the same sort of socks that you will be wearing them with (like thick socks in winter).
  • Choose socks and stockings carefully. Wear clean, dry socks every day. Avoid socks with holes or wrinkles. Acrylic-blend socks are more absorbent for summer wear - but they are thicker than others, so be sure your shoes are big enough. Avoid stockings with elastic tops.

The main problem that we have with diabetics is that they may lose sensation in the feet. IF this occurs, open sores can develop, or you can step on a tack and not feel any pain. There are other possible complications, but these are very unusual, and need not be mentioned here. During your visit we will be glad to discuss any questions you may have.