man testing his blood sugar

Diabetes affects millions of Americans every year–and it may even affect you, a loved one or a friend. If not properly managed, diabetes can cause several health complications such as kidney or heart disease. But just as common are the issues diabetes can cause with your feet. Something as small as a cut can lead to serious complications and, if not taken care of, even amputation.

Diabetes-related foot problems are mainly caused by high, uncontrolled blood sugar levels and diabetes-related artery and nerve diseases. These issues reduce the feeling in the foot, making it harder to tell if there is something wrong. The good news is that the Center for Disease Control has noticed a decline in diabetes-related lower limb amputations in recent years and attributes this to the fact that most diabetics are doing a better job of managing their diabetes and taking care of their feet.

By following some simple guidelines for keeping your feet healthy, along with managing your diabetes, you can prevent potential complications. These guidelines, from the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Keep your blood sugar levels under control. (This is at the top of the list because it should be your number one priority!)
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them carefully.
  • Check your feet for cuts, sores, blisters and red spots.
  • Use a pumice stone on wet skin to control calluses.
  • Keep skin smooth and soft by rubbing petroleum jelly or lotion on them, while avoiding the area in-between your toes to avoid excess moisture that can lead to infection.
  • Trim and file your toenails.
  • Exercise regularly and keep blood flowing to your feet by putting your feet up when you are sitting for long periods of time. Also, avoid crossing your legs for extended periods of time.
  • Wear shoes and sock to help protect your feet. Avoid walking around barefoot, and be sure that you are wearing clean socks to help avoid infection.
  • Ask about prescription shoes if you are experiencing any issues with your feet such as skin changes or feet deformations.
  • Have your feet examined at least once a year or more frequently, if you see anything out of the ordinary.

By managing your diabetes and exercising proper foot care, you can prevent severe complications. Follow and use these easy steps and don’t let your diabetes knock you off your feet.