Foot care tips for diabetics can save a limb

Published On: Feb 21 2012 09:10:40 AM PST   Updated On: Jun 05 2012 01:25:06 PM PDT
feet in sandals

(NewsUSA) - Complications due to diabetes are the No. 1 cause of lower-leg amputations and account for nearly 86,000 amputations per year. Doctors estimate almost 50 percent of these amputations could have been prevented if the person had taken better care of their feet.

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is for a person with diabetes to pay rigorous attention to their feet. Foot infections are the most common issue for a person with diabetes and are more severe and take longer to heal than in a person without diabetes," says Dr. Alan Farber, a certified doctor of podiatric medicine.

Farber added, "Proper foot care is simple and includes things like using an antifungal daily, not only to heal, but also to prevent fungal infections, and using a moisturizer daily to heal and prevent dry, cracked skin."

Are you being thorough enough in your foot care? Read on to find out:

* Whether indoors on plush rugs or outdoors on white sand, never walk barefoot. Podiatrists recommend wide, closed-toed shoes with socks that fit very well. Shoes should not require "breaking in."

* Clean feet daily with warm water and mild soap, but don't soak them for more than three or four minutes. Skin submerged for too long will become macerated and more vulnerable to bacteria.

* Cracks in dry skin provide ideal openings for bacteria. Look for moisturizing creams containing L-Arginine. L-Arginine helps stimulate healthy blood flow to heal dry, cracked skin. This special cream is available only in the diabetic section of your favorite drugstore or superstore.

* Under no circumstances should you shave or attempt to remove calluses or corns. Instead, show them to your podiatrist and ask about specially prescribed shoes. Even before your appointment, buy a cream made especially for people with diabetes that specifies it helps soften calluses, and apply it every day.

* Meticulously inspect feet, toes and toenails for swelling, cuts, blisters, redness, fungal buildup or any type of irritation on a daily basis. If you have thickened toenails, have a podiatrist test for fungus. If fungus is present, an antifungal will likely be recommended.