Our skin is the first means of defense we have against harmful organisms in the outside world.
While a lot of emphasis is placed on making skin look smooth, clear, and appealing, the bigger priority in keeping skin healthy is to maintain that protective layer around our organs. Our skin is the front line against infection!
If you live with diabetes, skin care holds even greater importance for you—especially when it comes to your feet. Skin that isn’t healthy is skin that is more likely to dry out, crack, weaken, and basically drop its defenses when something tries to invade. And thanks to complications from diabetes, the feet can be an especially difficult battle ground to keep reinforced.
Good skin care should be part of any diabetic foot care plan. It really does not take a lot of effort to maintain your skin and look out for troublesome trends. You also don’t have to be someone obsessed with making yourself look good to make good use of these tips—although hey, looking good is just an added benefit.
Here are a few simple ways to work diabetic skin care for your feet into your daily routines.
Inspect Your Feet Daily
Just taking a look at your feet every day may seem like advice that’s too easy, but this is arguably the most crucial way to protect your feet from creeping damage.
What makes diabetes so dangerous to the feet is the way it can interfere both with circulation and nerve sensations over time. It can get to the point where a simple cut on the foot goes unnoticed, but also has a hard time healing. Without the proper attention, that tiny nick can open up into a large ulcer that is extremely vulnerable to infection.
This sort of degradation in healing and sensation can happen very slowly over time; so slowly that you might not realize it’s happening until there’s a problem.
So, even if your feet feel perfectly fine now (and we hope they do), start making a habit of daily foot inspections now. That way you’ll catch problems as early as possible!
Find a convenient time such as before bed or after a shower to do this. Look and feel along the whole of each foot, using a mirror or asking help from a loved one if you are having difficulty accessing every inch.
Look for anything on your skin that is out of the ordinary, including:
- Cuts and sores
- Calluses and corns
- Areas that feel abnormally warm or hot
If you find something, let us know! This will likely rarely result in you needing to see us. We may often just advise you keep an eye on things and suggest home treatment. But even if the problem does not warrant immediate attention, we have a record of what is happening with your feet. If we see trends, we may recommend certain changes or treatments to help keep future problems from developing.
Moisturizing is not just for aesthetics. Keeping your skin moisturized can help prevent dryness and cracking, which is just another way that infection can find to make its way in.
The best times to apply moisturizer are when your feet are already a bit damp. Once again, that time you get out of the shower is a good opportunity.
A moisturizer does not need to be extremely fancy to work well, and it is usually best not to have something with so many extra bells and whistles that might irritate skin. Look for ingredients such as glycerin and urea that can gently moisturize.
And when you do apply moisturizer to your feet, cover all areas except between the toes. Moisture can get trapped in these small crevices, making them more prone to fungal infections.
Reduce Irritation to Your Feet
The situations we put our feet in daily can also have a significant impact on irritation and the development of problems.
Externally, shoes that are too small or have tight toe boxes, as well as socks that are rough can irritate the feet in certain areas, leading to calluses or even sores.
Internally, abnormalities in our foot structure can lead to excess pressure being placed on certain areas of our feet while we walk or stand, also increasing the odds of friction and calluses.
Specially designed diabetic shoes and socks are made to reduce pressure points and irritation, all while supplying needed support and cushioning. Socks even go so far as to be seamless, eliminating the possibility of them rubbing against your skin.
Additionally, custom orthotics can be of great help in addressing internal abnormalities, helping to properly distribute weight across the foot and avoid “hot spots” where friction and sores may develop.
We are happy to discuss all of these options with you, if needed, and help you find the best footwear and other equipment to increase comfort and protection of your feet.
We’re in Your Corner for Diabetic Foot Care
Taking steps to keep your skin—and the rest of you—healthy does a great deal toward slowing the effects of diabetes on your body. Regular professional evaluation can take these steps even further by identifying potential problems you might not even know were developing and addressing them before they turn into trouble.
We serve the foot and ankle needs of diabetic patients, both with direct care and preventative check-ups. We would be more than happy to help you maintain your comfort and mobility, and help increase your peace of mind as well.
Call our Massapequa office at (516) 804-9038 to schedule an appointment with us, or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.