Foot Care for People with Diabetes/Reduced Blood Flow

Individuals with diabetes and other conditions such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) that limit blood flow to the extremities are at increased risk of foot problems, limb loss and, in severe cases, loss of life.

IPFH suggests that foot care for someone with diabetes or another condition that reduces blood flow to the extremities include the following steps:

  • Inspect the person’s feet at least twice daily by looking at them (top and bottom) and feeling them with your hands for any bumps, lumps, sores, lesions or pressure points where sores and ulcers might form.
  • Wash the person’s feet at least once daily using lukewarm, not hot, water.  Use your elbow to test the water temperature.  Dry his/her feet thoroughly, including between the toes. 
  • Apply lotion only to the tops and bottoms of the feet, but never between the toes, since this can create a moist environment that favors fungal growth.
  • Cut the individual’s toenails straight across.  Do not let the person cut his/her own nails. If you cannot perform nail care easily, leave the task of cutting toenails to a foot health  professional.
  • Never cut corns and calluses or use wart removers, corn removers or other chemicals on the person’s feet. Only an appropriate foot health professional should do any procedures involving corns and calluses.
  • If the individual you’re caring for has no sensation in the feet (numbness/ neuropathy), be extra cautious. Do not expose the feet to temperature extremes.  Make sure there are no sharp objects such as broken glass, nails, or exposed sharp edges on floors or in carpeting. The person should not walk or move around barefoot, even inside the house.
  • Ensure that the individual has proper footwear.  If he/she is fully or partially mobile, this means properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approachpadded socks with shoes with non-slip outsoles and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional.  Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that wearing clinically tested padded socks can help prevent injuries to the skin/soft tissue of the foot, a major cause of diabetic ulcerations.

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