Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Caring for Your Feet

by Rita Weinstein

Use only TLC (tender loving care) on corns and calluses. Corns and calluses form wherever the skin of your feet rubs against your shoes. The best way to smooth these toughened areas away safely is to use a pumice stone after bathing or showering. It’s easy to cut or tear the skin while dealing with these areas, so treat them gently, rubbing the pumice stone in one direction only. Do not cut corns and calluses, and do not use razor blades, corn plaster, or liquid corn and callus removers. These items can damage your skin and lead to exactly the situation you’re trying to prevent. If you have problem corns or calluses, your doctor or foot-care specialist can take care of them safely and effectively. Don’t be reluctant to ask your health-care team to help —that’s why they’re there.

Keep ’em trimmed
Keep your toenails neatly trimmed. A good time to trim your toenails is when they’re soft — right after you’ve washed and dried your feet. Do it once a week or whenever needed. If you use clippers, clip nails straight across or follow the slight curve of the toe, then smooth the rough edges with an emery board or nail file. Some health-care professionals recommend that you avoid clippers entirely and use only a nail file. Whichever method you prefer, make sure you don’t cut into the corners of the toenail. Doing so can open the door to infection. If you have thick, yellowed nails or don’t see well enough to trim your nails yourself, your doctor, nurse, or caregiver can trim them for you.

Never go barefoot
Protect your feet with shoes and socks at all times and in all places, including indoors. Even at home, it’s easy to step on something and cut or bruise a foot. Wearing socks at all times is important because socks keep your shoes from rubbing against your feet and causing blisters. And not just any socks will do; choose socks that keep your feet dry and comfortable. Wool and cotton have long been recommended for their ability to let your feet “breathe,” but now manufacturers are creating lightweight blends with acrylic, rayon, and nylon that increase wicking action (moving moisture away from the skin) while minimizing friction against your feet. There are also socks made with extra padding at the sole. Whatever style of socks you choose, make sure they fit your feet well and don’t have lumpy seams that can rub against and irritate your skin. When you take your socks off at night, give them a quick check for wet spots, stains, or any unusual odor that could be signs of infection.

Remember to check the insides of your shoes before you put them on. If the lining is cracked, it could cause a blister. And check both shoes and socks before you put them on to make sure there are no objects in them that could bruise your feet. People who have lost some sensation in their feet might not feel a pebble, coin, paper clip, or even a house key or car key that has found its way into a shoe or sock.

Choose your shoes
Choose your shoes carefully. Selecting the right footwear is critical to the prevention of serious foot problems. For everyday wear, athletic or walking shoes made of canvas or leather are good choices; they provide your feet with the support they need and allow air to circulate around your feet. Vinyl or plastic shoes trap moisture, thus creating a good environment for bacterial growth. They also don’t flex or stretch well and are therefore more likely to cause corns, calluses, or blisters. Make sure shoes are comfortable when you first try them on. If you take them home thinking you’ll break them in, you’re liable to end up with sore spots or blisters that could lead to more serious problems later. Shoes with pointed toes or high heels create pressure points that can lead to bruises or blisters.

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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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