Diabetic Foot Care: Essential Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy During Winter

For people with diabetes, even a common foot issue can lead to infection or serious complications and even amputation. Therefore, diabetic foot care is important, especially, during winter as it brings with it threats of decreased circulation & numbness that may cause issues. Cold climate and fluctuating moisture & dryness elevate the risk of diabetic foot issues. About 15% of diabetics seek treatment at a hospital because of an infection or foot ulcer, which leads to amputation in some cases.

Ways To Prevent Diabetic Foot Complications During Winter

Here are a few things you should do to prevent diabetic foot complications during winters:

Keep your feet dry

Moisture that collects between your socks, your feet and toes can form bacteria, which can lead to an infection.

Use a moisturizer

Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But don’t moisturize between the toes, that could encourage a fungal infection. Moreover, keep in mind that poor circulation associated with diabetes often decreases the moisturizing glands in patients’ feet who are diabetic, leaving their feet more susceptible to severe dryness.

Look out for any unusual changes

Examine all the pressure points on your feet and in between your toes. Keep an eye out for discharge, changes in colour or odour, painful corns or calluses, or breaks in the skin.

Avoid direct heat

Keeping direct heat away from the feet of persons with diabetes is a safer strategy to avoid dryness and the risk of burning. Diabetes can cause nerve loss in the feet, making the seemingly easy act of keeping them warm in the winter more difficult. Always be careful when using hot soaks or heating pads (Please DO NOT use hot soak/ heating pads/ cold packs for pain and cramps). And always check the water temperature before you stick your feet in.

Avoid putting your feet in hot water

Patients with diabetes should not put their feet in hot water-they should test bath water with their hands or a thermometer first. Warming devices for the feet, such as electric blankets, heated shoe inserts, and heating pads, should also be avoided.

Shoes should be well-fitted

Diabetes patients should wear well-fitted shoes with supportive soles and a broad toe box at any temperature to avoid cramping. During the colder seasons, extra thought should be given to sock texture and how the weather will affect walking conditions.

Keep your blood sugar levels in check

Regulating your blood sugar is an important part of diabetic foot care. Your feet are one of the first places poor diabetic control appears. Work with your doctor to control your blood sugar. Since patients with diabetes are highly sensitive to foot issues, they should see a foot & ankle surgeon regularly as a preventive measure.

Always remember, with proper foot care, patients with Diabetes can lessen their chances of incurring a foot issue.

(The article is contributed by Dr Arun Bal, Consultant-Diabetic Foot Surgeon, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim-A Fortis Associate)

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