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This Little Piggy Went to the Podiatrist…
When is the last time you paid attention to your feet? You know, those two arched superheroes that support your whole body and move you everywhere day after day? Your feet work hard, and it's especially important for people who live with diabetes to give their feet a little TLC! I could write twenty articles on ways to take care of your tootsies, but today we'll focus on just one: looking at them.
Looking? Just looking? Yes, it’s that simple! Taking a peek at your feet will help you catch the first signs of any cuts, sores, or changes in shape that you might otherwise not feel. If you have a small cut or sore that you don't feel and don't see, it could grow larger and lead to a dangerous infection. This is especially important if you have neuropathy (loss of feeling in your feet), as any little damage to your skin will be much difficult for you to sense; you'll rely much more heavily on your eyes. The good news is that these issues usually don't pop up overnight! Regular examination of your feet can help nip small problems in the bud.
The only tools you need for a home foot exam are two minutes and your eyes (oh, and you might want to have your feet close-by as well). At the end of each day, take off your socks and shoes and look at the top, bottom, and sides of your feet. Don’t forget to peek between those toes!
What are we looking for? Any cuts, blisters, sores, or ingrown toenails. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, bring it to the attention of your health care provider; podiatrists are especially trained to help deal with these issues. If a cut or sore is especially stubborn, your provider might enlist the help of a wound care specialist to help things heal up more quickly.
If your flexibility isn’t quite at the level of an Olympic gymnast, family members or friends can help out by looking at the bottom of your feet. Another nifty trick: Put a small mirror on the floor and hold your bare feet over it. You'll be able to see the bottom of your feet without even having to bend over!
Doctors, nurses, and any diabetes educator will also be more than happy to visually examine your feet while you are in for your visits. It’s a good idea to visit a podiatrist at least once a year, more often if you need help cutting your toe nails.
So next time you're getting yourself ready for bed, don't forget to give your feet some attention, too!