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Diabetes and Foot Problems

Diabetes and Foot Problems

Posted by Abi Webster & Kinga Vagany on 18th Mar 2020

The Best Tips for Everyday Foot Care for Diabetics

Hello! My name is Rachel, and I’m part of the Marketing Team at Sole Bliss – and I have Type 1 Diabetes¹.

Did you know, if you suffer from diabetes, you are at a much greater risk of developing problems with your feet – but why? Diabetics suffer from raised blood glucose levels (also known as blood sugars) if they do not maintain control over their condition. No control can eventually damage organs, body parts and blood circulation. All these factors affect the feet and legs, from cuts and open wounds to painful limbs and infections – at worst, amputations!

Luckily however, most foot problems can be prevented with good, regular foot care and quality shoes that are tailored for all foot shapes and sizes – just like Sole Bliss’ collection! Make sure to keep an eye on your feet at home, but more importantly, don’t forget to get an annual foot check at your local podiatrist if your diabetic.

Check out our recommendations for the best shoes for diabetic feet as well as looking after your feet, below:

The Best Tips for Everyday Foot Care for Diabetics

Looking after your feet daily can be tricky, especially if you have a loss of feeling in them. However, you should seek professional medical help from a podiatrist if you do have a loss of sensation in your feet.

Sole Bliss has collected the best 9 tips on how to take care of your feet if you suffer from Diabetes.

1.Stop Smoking

Smoking carries a greater danger for someone suffering from diabetes. Tar from cigarettes pour toxins into your bloodstream, thickening your blood2. Once these toxins reach your heart, your blood pressure and heart rate will increase² making your heart work harder than it normally would. Your blood circulation will naturally change as the heart pumps blood around your body at a faster rhythm, and due to toxins narrowing your arteries, less oxygen rich blood can circulate to your organs. Your body will prioritise delivering the right amount of blood to organs over other body parts such as your feet, resulting in poor circulation in these areas. Unfortunately, this puts you at even more at risk of a possible amputation.

Stopping smoking is difficult, but your healthcare team can guide you through this difficult time. Your health is worth investing the time and energy to stop.

2. Monitor cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels 

Blood Pressure

Diabetics needs to avoid high blood pressure at all cost! It damages your blood vessels by putting extra pressure on them, making it harder for oxygen rich blood to reach vital organs. This leads to the same circulation issue as smoking, as your body will protect vital organs such as your heart. This can lead to eye, kidney and feet complications.

What is the ideal blood pressure target for diabetes?  

The resting blood pressure level should be below 130/80 mmHg³

Cholesterol Levels

There are two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol (HDL-C) and bad cholesterol (LDL-C). Diabetics tend to reduce good cholesterol levels and increase bad cholesterol levels, which leads to narrow or blocked arteries⁴, therefore putting diabetics at a greater risk of stroke, heart attack and other heart diseases⁴ . Narrow or blocked arteries will lead to bad blood circulation that can cause complications in your feet but this can all be managed by regular physical activity and a heart-healthy diet.

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar within target range will help prevent damage to your feet and can stop things getting worse – but this is easier said than done. Numerous factors can play into keeping your blood sugar in the recommended range. Make sure you know how to eat well from a nutritional standpoint, and that you stay active.

What is your target blood sugar if you are an adult with diabetes?

Type 1 Target Blood Sugar Level:

4 to 7 mmol/l⁵

Type 2 Target Blood Sugar Level:

Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/l⁵

Two hours after meals: 8.5 mmol/l⁵

What is the average blood sugar level (HbA1c) for a person living with diabetes? 

HbA1c is also known as glycated haemoglobin, which is sugar that sticks to your red blood cells for 2-3 months as your body can’t use the sugar properly. This is why the HbA1c test is taken quarterly. Too much sugar damages your blood vessels, leading to further health problems in your eyes and feet.

The target average blood sugar level is:

48 mmol/L⁵

If this is troubling you, or you feel as though your medication isn’t working as effectively as it should be, speak to your healthcare team as there are courses, such as DAFNE to help you get back on track.

3. Eat Healthy and Workout Regularly

As a start, it is recommended to eat lots of vegetables, have enough fibre in your diet, increase your intake of fish, cut down on processed food, sugar, alcohol and salty food.⁷ The advice of a certified dietitian or nutritionist can tailor a dietary plan that meets an individual’s needs as a healthy, balanced diet is essential!

Additionally, keeping active will help you manage your diabetes, reducing further complications in your feet. Personal trainers are on hand to help you choose the right activity or workout for you.

According to the  American Diabetes Association (ADA), the minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week is recommended for a person living with diabetes. These exercises include swimming, running, walking or cycling. ⁸

4. Check Your Feet for Changes Daily 

Knowing you should be checking your feet daily isn’t enough – you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. People suffering from diabetes can develop visible changes on their feet overnight.

  • Introduce checking your feet into your everyday routine and seek help from a health professional urgently if you spot any of the following symptoms:
  • If you notice breaks in the skin of your foot, or discharge leaking from the wound
  • If the skin of your foot changes colour and becomes red, blue or dark
  • Extra swelling around a previous blister or injury
  • There’s redness or swelling around an ulcer ⁶
  • If you are unable to lift your feet up, ask for someone’s help. If you live alone but require help, make sure to book an appointment with your local podiatrist.

Testing the nerve endings (neuropathy) in your feet is extremely important. High blood sugars can injure nerves throughout your body, but it is extremely important to test the feeling in your feet. A simple ‘touch the toe’ test will prevent a loss of sensation, which over time may cause infections and ulcers that could lead to an amputation. Avoid walking around bare footed if you have lost feeling and seek immediate medical help.

To test sensation in your feet, learn more about the ‘touch the toe’ technique here.

5. Be Careful When Cutting Your Nails

Cutting your nails can be trickier than usual if you suffer from diabetes. You could end up piercing the skin by mistake which can lead to further injuries. If you lost sensation in your feet, you need to be extra careful as you might not even notice harming your skin at all.

The Top Tips on How to Cut Your Toenails if You Suffer from Diabetes:

Regularly cut your toenails in a straight line – avoiding cutting too short or down the side.

  • Use nail clippers instead of scissors. Make sure to use an emery board to smooth any sharp corners or jagged edges.
  • Clean your toenails gently with a nail brush – never use the sharp points of scissors to clean as this isn’t safe.

Daily hygiene is a simple and easy task, that protect your toenails and feet from infections. Simple soap and warm water will do the job – always check that the water isn’t too hot for your feet! Don’t get lost in the bubbles – soaking your feet for a long time result in soggy feet which increase delicate skin and possible injury.

If you’ve lost some sensation in your feet and you’re worried about things like ingrown toenails visit a footcare specialist and treat yourself to a pedicure – don’t be embarrassed!

6. Wear Proper Fitting Shoes

Wearing shoes that fits properly have an effect on your overall foot health in the long run. The right shoes will support and conceal your feet where it needs it and keep your feet in the right position. Choosing the right shoes for diabetic feet is absolutely key!

What are the factors you need to consider while shopping for shoes for diabetic feet?

Shoes for diabetic feet are broad fitting

  • Diabetic shoes need to have a deeper and rounded toe box
  • Shoes for diabetic feet are flat or low heeled
  • Diabetic shoes are fastened by a lace or buckle to stop your feet sliding around.

Sole Bliss provide a great selection of diabetic shoes and heels that fit the above criteria – try our flat ballet pumps  Luna and Lizzie – or if you’re looking for something with a front strap and small heel, try stylish Mary Jane-style,  Nina.

7. Moisturise Every Day

One of the best moisturisers for your feet is an emollient cream. However, it’s best to discuss what cream is best suited for your skin with your podiatrist. After moisturising, remember to clean your skin in between your toes so any cream or talcum powder don’t get clogged up - it can cause dermatologic problems - do not skip this step!

8. Stay Away from Blades or Corn Plasters

The health of your skin is priority if you suffer from diabetes. Try to avoid the use of plaster to remove corns or any blade as they can damage your skin. Pumice stones are good alternatives to the above but use it with care. If you are struggling with healing corns or other skin problems, you can always reach out to a certified podiatrist.

9. Stay in Touch with Your Healthcare Team

For all diabetics it is essential to see a podiatrist once a year for a check-up, which gives you the chance to discuss those changes you noticed throughout your daily feet examination. However, if you notice any major changes do not wait until your appointment - seek medical help immediately.

Have a chat with your healthcare professional about finding out your risk of developing foot problems. If you are at high or moderate risk, please make sure you understand what needs to be done to prevent problems in the future.

If you have new questions that crop up about how best to care for diabetic feet, or about shoes for diabetic feet, speak to your footcare specialist. 

Team Sole Bliss xo

¹ https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/what-is-type-1-diabetes

²https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/smoking-health-problems

³ https://www.diabetes.co.uk/high-low-blood-pressure-symptoms.html

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cholesterol-abnormalities--diabetes

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/testing

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/foot-care-diabetics/

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diet/nhs-diet-advice.html

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1/S46

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