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How to look after your feet

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Four out of five amputations can be prevented

Your feet are important, especially if you have diabetes.

With diabetes, it means you’re much more likely to develop problems with your feet – problems that could end up as amputations. But most amputations can be prevented – four out of five in fact. If you take good care of your feet and check them regularly, you can reduce your risk of developing foot problems. 

So watch our video and take a look through our simple steps to having healthy feet every day.

Need some help checking your feet? Watch our video to learn how. 

         

 

Simple steps to prevent foot problems

If you want a few pointers on looking after your feet, then take our simple steps to healthy feet: 

  1. Go to your annual foot check.
  2. Know your foot risk.
  3. Check your feet every day.
  4. Be careful if you lose sensation. 
  5. Watch out cutting your nails. 
  6. Don’t use blades or corn plasters.
  7. Make sure your footwear fits. 
  8. Manage your diabetes. 
  9. Aim to stop smoking.

Tips for everyday foot care 

Looking after your feet on a daily basis can be tough especially if you’ve lost any sensation in them. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare team as you may need help from a podiatrist. 

We’ve put together some everyday tips which should help you keep your feet in check. 

Go to your annual foot check

A trained professional should check your bare feet once a year. It’s a good chance to check anything you might have spotted with them yourself. But don’t wait a whole year to ask them. If you notice a problem – get it seen as soon as you can.

Know your foot risk

Once you’ve had your annual foot check, you need to find out your risk of developing a serious foot problem. If you’re moderate or high risk, your healthcare professional should explain exactly what this means. They’ll also tell you if you need to see a foot specialist.

Feel free to ask them questions. The more you know, the more you can keep an eye on any changes in your feet.

Check your feet every day

Because of your diabetes, foot problems can get worse quickly. That’s why we’ve got some guidance on what signs to look out for when you check your feet. 

Whether you’re about to put your socks on, or you’re taking them off before bed, have a good look. Any changes, and you should see a healthcare professional straight away.

If you struggle to lift your feet up, then you might want to use a mirror to see the soles of your feet. If this is too hard, or if your eyesight is not as good as it was, try to get someone else to check your feet for you. And if you need help but live alone, it’s good to speak to a healthcare professional about how to check your feet. 

Be careful if you lose sensation

If you’ve lost any sensation in your feet, you need to look out for them a bit more. Things like walking barefoot or sitting too close to radiators or heaters are risky. Try to be careful. You might not notice straight away if you hurt yourself.

If you’re unsure if you’ve lost any sensation, you can do the Touch the toes test or speak to a healthcare professional.

Watch out cutting your nails

Cutting your nails seems simple. But if you have diabetes, piercing the skin by mistake can lead to other injuries. And you might not even notice you’ve done it.

When you cut your toenails it’s:

  • good to cut them often but not too short or down the side
  • safest to trim them with nail clippers and then use an emery board to file any corners
  • best to clean them gently with a nail brush. Don’t use the sharp points of scissors to clean as this isn’t safe.

Washing daily is also a simple way to keep your feet and toenails clean and away from infection. Just a simple mix of soap and warm water will do, but always check the temperature before you put your feet in. Careful not to soak your feet as this just makes the skin soggy and more likely to get damaged.  

If you’ve lost some sensation in your feet or you’re worried about things like ingrown toenails, see a foot specialist. They’re used to helping with these things.

Don’t use blades or corn plasters

Your skin needs to stay healthy. Don’t use plasters to remove corns or blades on your corns or tough skin as they could damage your skin. Pumice stones can also help with tough skin, but use them with care. If you need help with corns or other skin problems, it’s always a good idea to speak to a podiatrist.

Using emollient cream will keep your skin healthy. It’s best to talk to your healthcare team about which emollient cream is right for you. Don’t put cream between your toes, as this can cause problems. The same for talcum powder - if it gets clogged up between your toes, it could also cause excessive dryness.

Make sure your footwear fits

If your shoes or socks are too tight, too loose or rub, then don’t wear them.

The right shoes and stockings, tights or socks will help keep your feet healthy. Shoes that don’t fit well, even those that feel comfortable, can cause all sorts of problems. As can things like old innersoles, or socks with holes or thick seams. 

This is why you need to choose footwear carefully. Our tips should help you find the right footwear in a high street store at a decent price.

It’s good to buy shoes that:

  • are broad fitting
  • have a deep and rounded toe area
  • are flat or low heeled
  • are fastened by a lace or buckle to stop your feet sliding around.

If you’re unsure of the fit or style that is best for you, then ask a registered podiatrist for advice. There are many services that can help, like the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Disabled Living Foundation, and the Society of Shoe Fitters

Manage your diabetes

Keeping your blood sugar within target will help prevent damage to your feet and can stop things getting worse. 

Easier said than done. Maybe you need help knowing how to eat well and stay active? Or your medication isn’t working as well as it could be? Or perhaps it just feels like things are getting on top of you? 

There are a number of courses you can go on that can help you manage your diabetes. Speak to a healthcare professional about which course is right for you.

It’s also a good idea to speak to a support group or our helpline. Together, we can help you manage your diabetes.

Aim to stop smoking

Most people know that smoking isn’t good for you. But if you have diabetes, smoking has even more of an effect.

Smoking makes it harder for blood circulation, which is when blood moves around your body including your feet. So this puts you at even more of a risk of amputation. 

If you think you might need help to stop smoking, take the first step and ask your healthcare team for help.

We've also got a handy guide with tips for you to download (PDF, 43KB) with our quick tips.

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Simple steps to healthy feet guide

Simple steps to healthy feet guide
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