Diabetes can decrease circulation in your feet and cause nerve damage. These complications can make it difficult to self-diagnosis a foot problem and could increase the time it will take to heal from foot wounds. A yearly foot exam is an essential component of a good diabetes management program.
A foot exam is easy and straightforward. And most importantly, it is a great preventative tool to avoid more serious problems later on.
The doctor will start by visually inspecting the foot, looking for changes in skin color, cuts or other damage. Infections often start between the toes, so it’s important that both you and your doctor are checking that part of your foot regularly. The doctor should also check for a pulse to monitor circulation in the foot. A sensation test should also be conducted. This will involve the usage of special tools to evaluate awareness of touch, dull versus sharp pain and the movement of the tool across the skin.
In addition to annual exams by a doctor, make sure that you’re monitoring your foot health with the following tips:
- Inspect your feet in the morning and at night. Look for anything out of the ordinary and make sure any wounds are healing properly.
- Protect your feet by washing them daily in mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry feet thoroughly and keep them moisturized with a special lotion made for people with diabetes or approved by your doctor.
- Prevent nerve damage by controlling your blood glucose levels. Also, make sure you have comfortable footwear.
- Consult. Most diabetes patients should have exams yearly, but if you’re physically active or have other foot problems, more frequent consultations are advised. Make sure you find a doctor you’re comfortable with and can see often to keep on top of your foot health.