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Diabetic Foot Care

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Dear Dr. Levister: I am diabetic. How can I avoid problems with my feet? T.S.

Dear T.S.: Foot care is very important for every person with diabetes, but especially if you have: Loss of feeling in your feet, changes in the shape of your feet or foot ulcers or sores that do not heal.

Nerve damage can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You may not feel a pebble inside your sock that is causing a sore.

You may not feel a blister caused by poorly fitting shoes. Foot injuries such as these can cause ulcers, which may lead to amputation.

Make healthy lifestyle choices to help keep your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels close to normal.

Doing so may help prevent or delay diabetes-related foot problems as well as heart, eye, and kidney disease. Work with your health care team to make a diabetes plan that fits your lifestyle. The team may include your doctor, a diabetes educator, a nurse, a dietitian, a foot care doctor called a podiatrist (pah- DI-ah-trist), and other specialists.

• Wash your feet every day with lukewarm (not hot) water and mild soap.

• Dry your feet wel l , especially between the toes. Use a soft towel and pat gently; don't rub.

• Keep the skin of your feet smooth by applying a cream or lanolin lotion, especially on the heels. If the skin is cracked, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.

• Keep your feet dry by dusting them with non-medicated powder before putting on shoes, socks or stockings.

• Check your feet every day. You may need a mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet. Call your doctor if you have redness, swelling, pain that doesn't go away, numbness or tingling in any part of your foot.

• Cut toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.

It might help to soak your toenails in warm water to soften them before you cut them. File the edges of your toenails carefully.

• Don't let your feet get too hot or too cold.

• Don't go barefoot.

• Don't treat calluses, corns or bunions without medical help.

Keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. Also, follow your doctor's advice on diet and exercise. Take your insulin or medicine exactly as prescribed.

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