Disease of the arteries decreases the amount of blood and nourishment to your feet and legs. Diabetes not only decreases your ability to feel pain and distinguish between hot and cold in your feet, it also decreases the ability of your body to heal itself. Arterial disease often accompanies diabetes. The use of tobacco causes arteries to constrict which further decreases the amount of blood and nourishment they can supply to the feet and legs. You can injure your feet without knowing it. Your body is not able to heal itself or fight infection as well as it should. Cutting your foot accidentally with a razor blade or nail clipper or stepping on a sharp object or a burning cigarette can easily lead to infection, gangrene, and amputation.

The following suggestions will be helpful in preventing avoidable problems:

  1. Do not use tobacco of any type. Remember the life of your feet and legs are at stake.
  2. Do not take a bath or soak your feet until you have tested the temperature of the water with a thermometer. The water should be tepid from 80 degrees F to 93 degrees F. If you do not have a thermometer, ask someone who is not a diabetic to test the water temperature for you with their hand.
  3. Wash your feet daily with soap and water. Dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  4. If your skin tends to be dry or scaly, rub your feet gently with moisturizing cream or lotion as often as is necessary to keep your skin soft and free from scales and dryness. Ask your podiatrist or physician for recommendations.
  5. If toes overlap or are close together, separate them with lamb's wool - DO NOT use cotton.
  6. If you are over 60 years of age, rest at intervals during the day with your shoes off and elevate your feet to a position no higher than your hips.
  7. Do not walk without shoes, and do not wear house slippers or bedroom slippers when you should wear shoes.
  8. Wear loose shoes of soft leather which fit properly and conform to the shape of your feet. Wear fleece lined shoes or warm woolen socks in winter.
  9. Socks or stockings should be loose and seamless. They should be changed for a clean pair on a daily basis. Cotton stockings or socks would be best.
  10. If your feet perspire, wear cotton socks and dust foot powder in your socks and in your shoes to minimize irritation to your feet.
  11. Do not put your shoes on until you have inspected them on the inside for wrinkles in the lining or sharp nails coming through the sole. Check also to see whether pebbles, etc. might have gotten into your shoes by accident. This should be done regularly.
  12. Examine your feet when you remove your shoes for possible areas of irritation or injury, this also should be done on a regular basis.
  13. Do not use electric heating pads or hot water bottles. Use loose, warm bed socks instead.
  14. Do not wear circular garters or knot your stockings to stay up.
  15. Avoid strong, irritating antiseptics such as iodine, lysol, carbolic acid, etc.
  16. Do not cut your corns and calluses, and do not use commercial corn and callus remover or medicated corn and callus plasters.
  17. Consult your podiatrist or family physician if you notice any redness, swelling, blistering, abrasions of the skin, pain, ingrown nails, corns, calluses or other irregularities.
  18. Do not miss your regular progress check up with your podiatrist and your family physician.
  19. The American Diabetic Association recommends biannual foot checkups for all diabetics.
  20. Remember it is better to check out a possible problem. Reassurance and proper treatment are a wonderful combination.