Diabetes and Foot Care for Summer

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy and Pretty for Summer

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Summer is approaching and the weather is warming up which means bare feet and flip flops, right?  If you are someone with Type 2 diabetes, this can be dangerous, especially if you have peripheral neuropathy, diminished sensation, chronically high blood sugars or peripheral arterial disease. People with diabetes should never walk around barefoot- even in the house. Stepping on hot sand, a shell or stubbing your toe on the corner of the floor can cause a foot injury resulting in a serious infection or urgent care issue, particularly if you don't feel it.

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your feet in the summer.

Wear Protective Shoes Even at the Beach

Don't walk on hot sand without shoes on - this can burn your feet. Avoid walking into the ocean without shoes on, too. Instead, purchase a few pairs of beach shoes. For example, CrocsRX are accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association for foot health. Ask your doctor if these shoes are good for you.

Paint Your Own Nails or Bring Your Own Nail Tools

Not all nail salons practice good hygiene and even if they do, pedicure baths can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Washing the water basin between clients doesn't clean the fungus that could be lingering in the jets.

The best advice is to avoid nail salons altogether, but if you are so inclined to go, purchase your own tools and request that they clean the foot bath in front of you with sanitizing solution. Make sure they do not cut your toenails too short and skip cuticle cutting and callus removal (leave these tasks to your foot doctor).

Also request that they feel the water before having you put your feet in. You do not want to burn your feet.

Tools you should bring: 

  • Nail clipper
  • Foot paddle or pumice stone (to gently slough off dead skin)
  • Nail file (disposable wooden ones are best)
  • Buffing brick (to ready nails for polish)
  • Orange stick (to clean under the nail or gently push back cuticles)
  • Moisturizer or cuticle oil (to soften skin)
  • Polish (many salons use the same bottles and brushes for different patrons which can lead to a fungal infection)

Get into a Good Routine

Dry your feet well - especially between your toes after the shower, the pool or the beach. Excess moisture can lead to a fungal infection. Apply lotion to your feet daily to relieve dry, cracked skin, but do not put lotion between your toes. Do not soak your feet either. Soaking your feet can compromise the skin's integrity and increase your risk of injury.  

Check Your Feet Daily

Accidents do happen. If you find something on your feet that you suspect to be out of the ordinary - a cut, a wound, cracked skin - contact your foot doctor or primary doctor immediately. It is easier to treat something when you catch it right away. A small cut can turn into a major infection quickly if not treated promptly.

Get Routine Checkups

It's important to have a comprehensive foot exam annually, check your feet daily, and practice good hygiene.

Not all people with diabetes are destined to have feet related issues, but those you ignore their feet may. Podiatrists are trained to cut your nails the right way. They can also assess if you are eligible for diabetes shoes. Podiatrists act as shoe distributors too. If your physician has given you a prescription for diabetes shoes they will need to be distributed by a podiatrist, orthotist, prosthetist, or pedorthist.

Sources: 

Landau, M. Diabetic Living.  Pamper Yourself: Pedicure Tips for People with Diabetes. Accessed on-line. June 6, 2014: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/complications/feet/pamper-yourself-pedicure-tips-people-diabetes

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