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How is a diabetic foot managed?

Q:  How can a wound on the foot be managed in a diabetic patient?

A:Foot problems are a common complication in people with diabetes. This complication can be prevented with careful foot care. If complications do occur, daily attention will ensure that they are detected before they become serious. Controlling blood sugar levels can reduce the blood vessel and nerve damage that often lead to diabetic foot complications. If a foot wound or ulcer does occur, blood sugar control reduces the risk of requiring amputation. Foot care is important, although patients should also continue to follow other general guidelines for managing diabetes. The following strategies can reduce the chances of developing foot problem.

  • Smoking can worsen heart and vascular problems and reduce circulation to the feet.
  • Avoid activities that can injure the feet — like walking barefoot, using a heating pad or hot water bottle on the feet.
  • Use care when trimming the nails - Trim the toenails along the shape of the toe and file the nails to remove any sharp edges. Never cut (or allow a manicurist to cut) the cuticles. Do not open blisters, try to free ingrown toenails, or otherwise break the skin on the feet. See a healthcare provider or podiatrist for even minor procedures.
  • Wash and check the feet daily — Use lukewarm water and mild soap to clean the feet. Gently pat your feet dry and apply a moisturizing cream or lotion.
  • Check the entire surface of both feet for skin breaks, blisters, swelling, or redness, including between and underneath the toes where damage may be hidden. Use a mirror if it is difficult to see all parts of the feet or ask a family member or caregiver to help.
  • Choose socks and shoes carefully — Select cotton socks that fit loosely; and change the socks every day.

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