Foot & Ankle Clinic
Having diabetes increases the risk of developing a wide range of foot problems. Furthermore, with diabetes, small foot problems can turn into serious complications. “As a podiatrist, I see many people every day in our clinics with diabetes,” reports Dr. Kowski, “People living with diabetes are prone to having foot problems, often because of two complications of diabetes: nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation.” Neuropathy causes loss of feeling in your feet, taking away your ability to feel pain and discomfort, so you may not detect an injury or irritation. Poor circulation in your feet reduces your ability to heal, making it hard for even a tiny cut to resist infection. As a result, you could develop a blister or a sore. This can lead to an infection or a non-healing wound.
You, the patient, play a vital role in reducing diabetic foot complications. Follow these guidelines and contact your foot and ankle surgeon if you notice any problems:
Inspect your feet daily
Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet.
Bathe feet in lukewarm, never hot, water
Keep your feet clean by washing them daily. Use only lukewarm water—the temperature you would use on a newborn baby. Wash them using a soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting and carefully dry between the toes.
Moisturize your feet but not between your toes
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.
Cut nails carefully
Cut them straight across and file the edges. Don’t cut nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toenails. If you have concerns about poor circulation or neuropathy, consult
Never treat corns or calluses yourself
No “bathroom surgery” or medicated pads. Visit your podiatrist for appropriate treatment.
Wear clean, dry socks
Change them daily. Consider socks made specifically for diabetes. These socks have extra cushioning, do not have elastic tops, are higher than the ankle and are made from fibers that wick moisture away from the skin.
Shoes for patients living with diabetes are made with special protective inserts and soft shoe materials to accommodate for conditions, such as neuropathy (numb feet), poor circulation and foot deformities (bunions, hammertoes, etc.). The shoes decrease the chance of foot sores (ulcers), which can be caused by friction and pressure.
Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before wearing
Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a pebble or other foreign object, so always inspect your shoes before putting them on.
Never walk barefoot
Not even at home! Always wear shoes or slippers. You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
Take care of your diabetes
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is a very important part to foot health.
Do not smoke
Smoking restricts blood flow in your feet.
Get periodic foot exams
Seeing your podiatrist on a regular basis can help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.
If you develop a problem with your feet, see your podiatrist. Many new surgical techniques are also available to save
feet and legs, including joint reconstruction and wound healing technologies. Getting regular foot checkups and seeking immediate help when you notice something can keep small problems from worsening.
Joel Kowski, DPM, FACFAS – Foot & Ankle Clinic
For information or to schedule an appointment:
715-235-4274 | footankle-clinic.com
Dr. Kowski sees patients in Eau Claire, Baldwin, Neillsville, Rice Lake and Stanley.