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The feet of someone with diabetes can undergo many changes. All of these changes, unfortunately, increase the risk of chronic wounds or sores, known as foot ulcer, life-threatening infections, hospitalizations, and amputation. In addition to seeing a podiatrist and or foot doctor regularly, along with healthy lifestyle changes, using certain products can definitely decrease the risk of developing foot ulcers. To learn more about the most common changes seen in diabetic feet click the following link to another one of my blog posts: https://www.directpodiatryaz.com/post/most-common-diabetic-feet-issues Here are the top 6 products that I recommend that my patients have in their diabetic foot care kit.
Mirror with telescoping handle
Checking your feet daily is key to foot ulcer and amputation prevention. I tell all of my diabetic patients, or patients with neuropathy, or poor circulation that they should be checking their feet daily. If you see any changes to the skin of your feet, ned redness, darkness, blisters, calluses, or cuts, call your foot doctor immediately, and they should be able to see you as soon as possible.
Some of the saddest amputations I've done were on patients that did not or were not able to check their feet daily. Because of this, they had wounds on their feet, that they did not know about, because of the loss of feeling to their feet, known as neuropathy. Neuropathy, diabetes, and poor circulation in concert together create a perfect storm for a foot amputation to take place. Daily foot checks are extremely important.
This is the style of mirror that I recommend. The handle telescopes, or gets long as you pull it out so that it's very easy to see the bottom of your feet, even when sitting. This is great for people who don't have the flexibility to bring their feet up to them. A mirror with a telescoping handle is key to have in your diabetic foot care kit.
2. Diabetic socks
Diabetic socks have a special design that sets them apart from all other socks. Diabetic socks are made from extremely soft material, which is as gentle as possible to the delicate skin of your feet and legs. Diabetic socks are also loose fitting, which decreases the risk of blisters, other open sores, and then chronic wounds forming. I've included both ankle length and crew length. This company, Special Essentials, includes different colors of socks as well. Feel free to include these in your diabetic foot care kit as well.
3. Pumice Stone
Pumice is a type of natural material, specifically volcanic rock that is very lightweight and porous. A pumice stone is typically used on the feet for dry, rough skin. The feet of diabetics tend to develop calluses for several different reasons. These reasons include changes to the shape of your feet and toes, as well as the sweat glands in the feet tend not to work as well. If you are a diabetic, again you should be seeing a podiatrist regularly for foot checks. At this visit, if any calluses are seen, your foot doctor can carefully shave them down. If you are someone that struggles with calluses building back up, making it painful to walk before your next visit, using a pumice stone on a callus between visits is fine to do. Note: Do not use a pumice stone on the calluses or corns of your toes. The pumice stone should be wet, and your skin has to be wet before use. If your skin is not wet, this can lead to skin irritation and wounds. A pumice stone is a great addition to any diabetic foot care kit. To read more on proper and safe pumice stone use, read the article linked here by Mind Body Green: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-use-pumice-stone#:~:text=Wet%20your%20pumice%20stone%20before,in%20with%20your%20pumice%20stone.
4. Urea Cream
Again, due to the changes that happen in the feet from diabetes, calluses can form. In addition to only your foot doctor trimming these calluses, and possibly using a pumice stone at home, another tool for managing callused feet is urea cream. Urea is a gentle acid, great for calluses on the feet, and safe for diabetic feet especially. For a diabetic dealing with callused feet, a urea cream is good to have in your diabetic foot care kit. There are higher-strength prescription options available from your podiatrist, but there are over-the-counter or OTC options as well. My favorite OTC brand for urea cream is by Oukeya.
5. Ammonium Lactate
Dry skin and diabetes unfortunately can go hand in hand. If you have overall dry, scaly feet, a cream with ammonium lactate can be a great product to use as a daily moisturizer for your legs and feet. Ammonium lactate is another type of acid that increases hydration to very dry skin. To learn more about ammonium lactate, click here: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a617028.html
6. House Slippers
One of the main things we foot doctors stress to our diabetic patients, is that they should not be barefoot, outside, or inside. This is because, going barefoot increases your risk significantly of skin injury, and therefore the possibility of a foot ulcer developing. Many people with diabetes opt to keep their outside shoes on while indoors, but it's understandable if someone wouldn't want to do that for many reasons. This is where house slippers come into play. It's important with shoe wear for diabetics, that the sole be stiff and sturdy, this also applies to house shoes. There are two brands I like for house slippers for diabetics, and really anyone with foot problems who want who give their feet added support at home, Haflinger and Vionic.
Haflinger is a Nordic brand that has been around since 1898. They offer many styles of footwear, but for me, their house slippers are their stand out due to the supportive footbed high-quality construction, and natural materials, mainly wool. There are many styles and colors that Halfinger offers in their house slippers, as well as unisex options.
Vionic is a stellar footwear brand, that has been recommended by podiatrists for decades. They also offer many styles of shoes as well but include several designs of house slippers. My favorite house slipper for women by Vionic would be the Lynez slipper. The Lynez slipper again includes the structured footbed which is key, but also a faux shearling lining. My favorite part of the slipper is that the heel is also covered, so the foot is completely protected while indoors.
For men at Vionic, there are two options that I like, which also include the covered, protected heel, as well as the rubber sole, structured footbed, and faux shearling lining. This would be the Adler and the Gustavo slipper.
Managing diabetic feet is a lifelong process, but with the right tools in place, protecting your feet, and decreasing your risk of foot amputation is possible.
Looking for a diabetic foot doctor in Phoenix, AZ? My name is Dr. Tarr, and I am the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe. To book your appointment with me, click the link here to view available appointment times: directpodaz.janeapp.com