There’s no rule that says you can’t live a full, active, healthy life with a diabetes diagnosis, but if you want your feet to keep you going for the long haul, you need to be proactive. That’s because diabetes impairs both nerve function and circulatory strength in your lower legs. That combination reduces the likelihood you’ll “feel” an injury, delays the natural healing response, and thus greatly increases the risk of infection (which could lead to wounds and ultimately amputations if not treated promptly).
The self-exam is your most basic and essential self-defense strategy against severe diabetic foot complications. Here’s a quick primer on examining your feet for diabetic wounds:
- Perform the check once per day, at a regular time, on clean feet.
- Sit in a well-lit room.
- If you find it physically difficult to observe your entire foot (including your sole and between your toes) on your own, use a small hand mirror or get a trusted relative or friend to help you.
- Check your entire foot for signs of injury or skin damage. Take note of any cuts, blisters, calluses, bumps, dry or cracked skin, rashes, redness, swelling, or other issues.
- Feel your feet with your hands. Do you detect any problems you didn’t see visually? This can include irregular textures, temperature variations, dry skin, etc.
- Check your toenails carefully to see if there is any discoloration, brittleness, ragged textures, or swelling near the edge of the nail.
- Quickly test your circulation by gently squeezing the fat, fleshy part of your toes. Color should return in 5 seconds or less if circulation is healthy.
- Carefully record any problems you’ve noticed. It helps to have a journal handy. You may even take a few quick snaps with your phone camera, too.
If you observe serious issues, such as an obvious sore or wound, it’s imperative you call Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists immediately for wound care—any delay increases the risk of infection and severe complications.
Smaller issues, such as very recent and minor scrapes, you may treat with home care, but you must continue to monitor them carefully every day. Any problems that do not clear up after a few days, or show signs of worsening, must be looked at immediately by a professional.
Diabetic foot exams won’t take too much time—just a few minutes each day—and they can preserve years, even decades, of healthy living if they help you catch a wound in time! That’s why it’s imperative you make them part of your routine. For more information, please make an appointment with Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists by calling (512) 328-8900.