As many as six million diabetics will have a foot ulcer that may result in chronic non-healing wounds and, in extreme cases, lead to amputation.
And, a staggering 180 amputations a day are performed in the United States on patients with diabetes.
"Most people with diabetes know the importance of checking blood sugar levels while the importance of daily foot exams is underemphasized, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that comprehensive foot care programs can reduce diabetes-related amputation rates by 45 to 85 percent," says Katherine J. Rowland, Chief Clinical Officer for Healogics, a network comprised of academic medical centers, hospitals and professionals committed to advancing wound healing by creating, sharing, and activating wound prevention and care expertise.
During National Foot Health Awareness Month in April, the local experts at Penn Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine recommend the following foot care tips:
- Don't count on foot pain to alert you to problems. Diabetes can cause changes in the skin on the feet as well as nerve damage which can impair sensation of feeling. Visually inspect your feet and between your toes for blisters, cuts and red spots and swelling.
- Avoid crossing your legs: this can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, possibly causing damage.
- Sit with your feet up to keep the blood flowing to them. Two or three times a day, wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for five minutes.
- To avoid blisters always wear properly fitting socks. Make sure socks are not tight below the knee.
- To prevent cracking and drying of your feet, rub the top and bottom with lotion but not between the toes.
- Don't go barefoot. Feel inside your shoes before putting them on to make sure they don't have tears in the lining or foreign objects.
- Shoes must be fitted well. New shoes should be worn one to two hours a day for the first few weeks.
- Cut toenails straight across and don't trim them too short. Use an emery board to smooth corners of toenails or ingrown nails.
- Don't pull loose pieces of skin off your feet. See a health care professional to have them removed.
- See your doctor if you experience any foot problems including if your foot changes in color, shape or just doesn't feel right.
For more information about diabetes management and treating and preventing chronic wounds, contact Penn Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine at 610-738-2590.