How to protect the health of your feet during the Covid-19 pandemic, if you have diabetes
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
To be honest, if you have already established the habit of checking the soles and heels of your feet every day then you are doing exactly the right thing - just continue checking for any change to their condition. If you notice any changes then contact your Podiatrist/Diabetes Nurse or GP for advice. If you are due for a check up or have regular podiatry appointments, then check with your clinic to find out what is happening with your appointment if you have not already heard.
Diabetes UK offer the following advice regarding foot health and the current coronavirus situation on their website:-
"If you're already having treatment for something like a foot or eye problem, and you don't have coronavirus symptoms, then your appointments should still carry on. If you're worried about going to your clinic or hospital at this time or want to check whether your appointment is still going ahead, call the number on your appointment letter. Most routine appointments like your annual diabetes review have been cancelled or postponed. But you should be able to reschedule once things go back to normal. It's okay that you won't be going your eye screening and routine foot checks in these circumstances. In the meantime, follow your current routine including checking your feet daily, keep to a healthy diet and try to keep active."
If you have diabetes, and don't currently check your feet, then it is advisable to start now but why?
Quite simply, if you have diabetes you are more likely to develop foot problems which may develop into a foot ulcer which could then result in amputation if not dealt with quickly enough. Currently there are 169 lower limb amputations every week in England and Wales due to diabetes related complications (DiabetesUK 2018 figures) and 80% of these could be prevented.....
This may sound dramatic - foot ulcers and amputations are a risk if you have diabetes but they are not inevitable. As I said - 80% are preventable.
There is more information on why people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from foot problems like diabetic foot ulcers in another blog titled 'Amputation and Diabetes – what you need to know'. which is worth reading.
So how do you protect the health of your feet during the Covid-19 pandemic if you have diabetes?
1 - Check your feet every day looking for changes outlined below. You should take time to check the soles of the feet paying particular attention to the heel and in between the toes. Using a foot inspection mirror will make this check easier.
2 - Wash and carefully dry your feet - especially the area between your toes.
3 - Apply a quality moisturiser specially developed for diabetic feet but do not use in between the toes.
4 - Always wear properly fitted footwear and diabetic socks
5 - Always wear footwear in the house - to protect your feet from damage you should never walk barefoot. Slippers should have velcro or similar fastening so that the shoe is secure on your foot. This will reduce the chances of rubbing and potential blistering or rubbing of the skin.
Checking your feet every day will allow you to spot problems or changes in your feet as soon as they occur. It can be likened to the habit of cleaning our teeth twice a day which enables changes to teeth and gums to be detected straight away. It should be the same for your feet. Daily checks allow you to become familiar with the soles of your feet when they are healthy making it easier to spot a change.
What Changes to look for :-
• Blisters from rubbing shoes or socks.
• Cuts from a foreign object in your shoes, or standing on something and not feeling it.
• Cracks or breaks in the skin from a build up of dry skin, especially in the heel area.
Hard Skin and Callus due to a build up of pressure on:-
• Balls of feet and heels.
• Where bones stick out, i.e.Bunion joints and hammer toes.
Redness, warmth or swelling in colour of the skin:-
• This could indicate a sign of infection. With diabetes, any damage to your foot can quickly escalate from a cut to an ulcer then to an infected ulcer, if not dealt with quickly. This is because if there is blood vessel damage, there is reduced blood flow to your foot meaning wounds take longer to heal, if at all.
If you notice anything unusual or any changes outlined, above then get in touch with your Podiatrist, Diabetes Nurse or GP surgery straight away as it may minimise the risk of something serious developing.
If you are used to having your feet checked by your podiatrist every 2-3 months, as this may not be feasible for the foreseeable future, now is the time to start checking your own feet and familiarising yourself with what they look like.
If a problem is noticed early enough and advice sought, the chances of something more serious developing will be dramatically reduced. A phone call now rather than waiting for another 3 months before letting someone else check your feet, could save you from much discomfort, pain and inconvenience going forward.
During these uncertain times, we are unable to control many external factors which affect us all in so many different ways. All we can do is control what we can physically control i.e. our actions and the way we react to any situation.
During lockdown, when our access to the help we take for granted is restricted, taking control of your foot health by incorporating a simple daily foot check should give such a feeling of empowerment.
Empowered by the knowledge that you are taking control of an important part of your life which will continue long after this lockdown ends.
Please start your daily foot check today......