Diabetic wound care is just as much about preventing injuries as it is about treating problems that arise.
In our previous blog, we discussed how important it is to be on the lookout for problematic developments on your feet or the feet of someone you are caring for. But in addition to this and other treatment recommendations we can make as a podiatrist, there is even more you can do to help prevent wounds and injuries from occurring on the feet.
Home is where the majority of injury-involved accidents occur (about 54 percent, according to the National Safety Council in 2019 – and potentially more considering how many more of us have stayed home over the past year), so it should be a primary focus on reducing wound risk. Below are some simple tips to apply to both your home and yourself to make diabetic wounds (and their associated complications) less likely.
And of course, if you ever do face a wound or other problem despite your best efforts, never hesitate to let us know. We can provide prompt evaluation and treatment to help keep that problem from becoming worse.
Wear Shoes that Fit Well – Everywhere
This not only means you should wear shoes that properly fit you along every area of your foot, but also that many people with diabetes should consider wearing shoes inside the house as well.
A good shoe for diabetic feet tends to be fully enclosed to protect the feet, but also lightweight and made of breathable material. The less moisture you trap around the feet, the better.
Shoes and socks should also not rub up against any areas of the skin to cause potential sores or calluses. Remember that special seamless socks and shoes can help keep those “hot spots” from forming.
Footwear also shouldn’t be too tight – especially in the toe area, where it can increase the risk of ingrown toenails. (This includes tight socks as well as tight shoes.)
Having a clean pair of good shoes to wear indoors can help protect against the stubs and scrapes that can sometimes happen in the home. They can also provide the feet added support against various causes of heel and arch pain. Over the past year, we’ve seen more instances of heel pain in patients who have switched to working from home and gone without shoes more often, so don’t feel shy about taking this step!
Patrol the Home for Hazards
When you’re very familiar in and around your home, it can be easy to overlook potential problems that can lead to accidents. Take a “tour” of your environment with a firm focus on checking safety.
Be particularly on the lookout for:
- Cluttered walkways and other high-traffic areas.
- Loose electrical cords.
- Loose rugs.
- Exposed corners near walking areas.
- Loose handrails (or a lack of handrails where they can be most useful, such as in showers and on stairs).
- Inadequate lighting (especially between the bedroom and bathroom).
We’re not trying to make you afraid to move around in your own home! On the contrary: the more you know you have done beforehand to mitigate risks, the more confidently you or a loved one can get around.
Stay Moisturized (as Recommended)
Dry feet can be unsightly and uncomfortable. But even worse, they can develop cracks that can worsen into open ulcers and/or provide easier entry for infections.
Establishing a daily moisturizing habit for your feet help keep your skin healthy. However, we ask that you check in with us for advice on what would be best to use, and how to use it.
First, not all moisturizers are made the same. There are lotions, creams, and ointments galore, all containing a wide range of ingredients. Many of these ingredients are great for exfoliating dead skin and helping healthy skin absorb moisture, but some can cause irritation that you definitely don’t want.
Second, depending on your situation, there can be such a thing as having too much moisture on the feet. Moisture that collects against the skin and stays for some time can weaken the skin and become a breeding ground for fungus or bacteria. This is especially true where moisture can easily gather between the toes.
We can help you determine the best ways to combat dryness, and they might include environmental changes instead of regular application of lotions or creams.
Do Not Try to Solve All Problems at Home
It may be tempting to treat many minor foot issues at home. But when even a minor scrape can run a high risk of complications, a more cautious approach to problems can be well worth it.
Do not attempt to treat calluses, corns, warts, or ingrown toenails on your own. Even over-the-counter treatments that are available may contain chemicals that can cause irritation or burning to your skin. And any sort of treatment or technique that involves cutting into your skin should never be attempted if you have diabetes (or even if you don’t, quite frankly).
Whenever you are in doubt, please give us a call. We may not recommend that you come in for every condition you may have, depending on your symptoms. But we can advise you on the best way to approach a problem, and schedule an appointment for you to come in if there is something we need to look at or treat instead.
Living Life to the Fullest – Without Fear
It can certainly feel a bit restrictive at times to live with diabetic feet, but our mission is always to help patients do what they love as best as possible without being impeded by complications. We love to see our patients living active lives – it’s great for your physical and mental health!