Our lockdowns have placed many aspects of our lives and work on hold. One thing that they don’t put on hold, however, is the need to carefully look after our feet if we have diabetes. Good foot care can be much harder in lockdown because you can’t have external family or friends come to your home to help look after your feet, and health services like your podiatry clinic may not be open depending on the alert level.
If this is you, we’ve put together a list of things you can be doing to help protect your feet, why they’re important, and how we can help you feel better on your feet once you can get in to see us.
Walking around your home with bare feet is one of the most common reasons we see for damage to the skin of the feet in older adults with diabetes. Whether it’s knocking your foot on the side of a chair leg, having something brush against the feet and scratch the skin, standing on something prominent (it doesn’t even have to be sharp) or something else – this risk is very easy to avoid by simply wearing slippers or shoes inside your home. Not only will you be protecting your feet from harm but good shoes or slippers can also help reduce those end-of-day foot and leg aches while improving your comfort. Even slippers like these have in-built arch support to help your feet feel like they’re walking on a cloud.
Good socks will do a few things. First, they’ll wick moisture away from your feet instead of trapping any perspiration close to the skin and making it more vulnerable to damage. Next, they’ll be made from a warm, quality material like these merino socks that will both keep your feet warm and be designed to last. Ideally, they’ll be seamless to prevent bulky seams from pressing into your feet and toes and causing any damage. They won’t be too tight so that they restrict your circulation. While there are compression socks to assist circulation, we’re talking about those socks with very tight seams at the top of the socks that cut into the skin and can cause discomfort. Finally, they’ll be warm. Warm socks help demote heat from being lost through the feet, keeping the vessels dilated to promote healthy blood flow.
We know – it’s winter and it’s getting cold. What you want to avoid, however, is direct contact with hot water bottles without a cover, heaters, scalding hot electric blankets, and the like. Always keep a protective layer between your feet and these objects and remember that diabetes can impair your ability to feel the heat as an effect of neuropathy – so things may be hotter and be causing more damage than they feel.
Like brushing your teeth or turning out the lights before you head to bed, make checking your feet a daily habit. You want to be checking for anything out of the ordinary or that doesn’t feel right – cuts, wounds, scratches, red patches, swollen areas, any discharge coming from the feet whether it’s blood or it’s a clear or yellow discharge. Use a mirror to carefully check the undersides of your feet if you can’t reach down to your feet. Once you notice something, take the right action – bandage it, apply antiseptic, take pressure away from it – whatever you’ve got to do to protect your feet. While you may not be able to make it out to see someone, you can always book telehealth consultations with your GP to get their advice on the best next step.
Wash your feet daily, and after you do, take extra care to dry your feet well – especially between your toes. Often, moisture gets trapped between the toes and if that moisture isn’t removed then it can start to macerate (break down) the skin, leaving you vulnerable to pain and infection. After you’ve dried your feet, apply moisturiser, avoiding the areas between the toes. This will help promote sensation and skin health. Cover your feet with socks after moisturising to reduce your risk of slipping – and take care.
When you can, and when we’re back open after any lockdowns, come in for a foot health check. We’ll assess and discuss any problems you’ve noticed, check your foot health, and evaluate the sensation and circulation to your feet. For any questions or to book your appointment, call us on 1300-FX-FEET or book your appointment online here.