NOVEMBER 2016 ;e Costco Connection 85
BY JOAN RATTNER HEILMAN
IF YOU have diabetes,
it’s vital to take meticulously good care of your
feet. You may have poor
circulation and perhaps
even neuropathy, a common diabetic condition
that causes numbness or
lack of feeling, making
you particularly susceptible to infections and
injuries that can cause big trouble down the
road if you neglect them.
So take a good look at your feet and legs
every single day and, if there is any sign of a
problem, even if it seems minor and doesn’t
hurt, check it out immediately with your
health care provider. Never assume that whatever it is will just clear up on its own. It
might—but it might not.
Foot problems are the most common reason that diabetics, especially as time goes on,
land in the hospital. Happily, most of the
problems are preventable. So if you are a diabetic, pay careful attention to the following
advice if you want your feet to last as long as
• Schedule regular appointments with a
health care provider for a professional inspection and treatment of problems.
• Wash your feet every day in warm, not
hot, water, but never soak them, which may
encourage broken skin and infections.
Because a diabetic’s skin tends to become very
dry, use a non-alkaline soap, dry your feet and
legs gently, then massage them with an alcohol-free lubricating cream or lotion (avoid
putting the cream or lotion between your
toes). Examine them carefully, tops and bottoms and between your toes. Never assume
anything is too minor to worry about.
• If you trim your own nails, use clippers
or scissors with rounded tips. Cut them after
a bath when they are soft, and trim them
straight across. Smooth nails lightly with an
emery board, not a nail file.
• Got corns, calluses, blisters? Don’t mess
with them. Take them to the podiatrist. Don’t
try bathroom surgery with scissors, razors or
even pumice stones or corn pads.
• Change your socks (and your shoes)
every day, more often if they get wet or your
feet sweat a lot. Avoid tight or stretch socks
and hose with elasticized tops or prominent
seams. Make sure they fit smoothly so you
won’t be walking on wrinkles that rub. Choose
socks that are good at wicking away moisture.
• Never wear shoes that don’t fit perfectly;
opt for roomy, comfortable footwear with
closed toes, soft uppers and well-cushioned
soles. No pointy toes or high heels (well,
maybe for very special occasions). Don’t go
barefoot, even at home. Wear swim shoes or
sneakers on the beach. Steer
clear of sandals and flip-flops.
Break in new shoes gradually by wearing them around
the house or on short jaunts.
Once a pair of shoes rubs you
the wrong way, don’t wear
them again for at least a week,
then try them again. If they
still hurt, discard them, return
them to the store or have
them adjusted. If your sensory perception is not too
good, you may not feel the
rubbing, so be sure to watch
for it every day. If you have a
problem with balance and/or
falling, wear nonslip mesh
shower slippers in the shower
to help keep you upright.
• Protect your feet
against both heat and cold. Don’t use heating
pads, and avoid sunburn. Test bathwater with
your hand or elbow. Stay out of saunas, steam
rooms and whirlpool baths. Wear warm socks
and lined boots in winter, and check your feet
regularly to be sure they are warm enough.
Because your blood vessels are probably narrower and more constricted due to your diabetes, it’s easier for you to get frostbite.
• Don’t use adhesive tape on your feet.
Don’t use medications or chemicals on your
feet unless prescribed by a health care professional (be sure to remind him or her that you
• Finally, feet change with age. They lose
their layer of subcutaneous fat, giving the
bones and joints less padding against pressure, friction and shock. They become larger
as they spread and stretch, while ligaments
and tendons become less elastic. And they’ve
had more time to develop problems. Pay
close attention to them and they will last you
for a lifetime. C
Joan Rattner Heilman is the co-author of
Diabetes Survival Guide (Random House,
2006; not available at Costco).
FOR YOUR HEALTH
The diabetic’s guide to good foot care
On your toes
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
Costco members will find a variety of
health items to help manage their diabetes, including insulin, blood-glucose monitors and more at Costco pharmacies and