The Diabetic Foot

Skin and Foot Care

In diabetes, care of the skin and the feet assumes paramount importance. Increased chances of contracting an infection, inadequate blood-supply and impaired sensations are the three factors which endanger a diabetic’s skin and feet.


Skin-care: A diabetic should always remain alert to prevent an injury to the skin. He should take extra care while scratching his skin or while shaving. He should see that his skin is not abrased against the wall or a rough surface.

In spite of all the precautions, if the skin is injured, the wound should not be allowed to get infected. It should be washed with clean water, disinfected with a cotton-swab soaked in alcohol and lightly bandaged with a cotton cloth. Adhesive tapes should never be used to cover a wound. If a wed is felt, mild antiseptics like mercurochrome, acriflavine or furazolidine can be applied over the wound; but strong medicines like tincture of iodine, carbolic acid, salicylic acid or phenol should be avoided.

Skin Care Tips

  • After you wash with a mild soap, make sure you rinse and dry yourself well. Check places where water can hide, such as under your arms, between your legs, and between your toes.
  • Keep your skin moist by using a lotion or cream after you wash.
  • Drink lots of fluids, such as water, to keep your skin moist and healthy.
  • Wear all-cotton underwear. It allows air to move around your body better
  • Look at your body after you wash. Make sure you have no dry, red, or sore spots that might lead to an infection.

If you have any skin problems, talk to your healthcare provider about them right away. Next week, we’ll look at some specific skin conditions that affect people with diabetes.

Sometimes we do get injured. Here are some tips to treat your wounds:

  1. Take care of cuts or wounds as soon as possible.
  2. Wash the area well with water.
  3. Cover the wound with a dry, sterile pad or bandage.
  4. Go to the clinic if cuts or bruises do not heal within 2 or 3 days.
  5. Go to the clinic if you see any signs of infection.

Here are signs of infection:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • warmth
  • rash
  • pain
  • drainage

Foot Care

Foot-care: Care for your feet more than your face’, so advise the doctors to their diabetic patients, and rightly so.

A diabetic should constantly be on an alert to prevent a foot-injury.

The feet should be washed twice a day with soap and warm water. While washing the feet, the nails, the toes and the skin between the toes should be minutely observed. The feet should then be wiped dry with a soft cloth. In diabetics, the skin between the toes easily gets injured or infected with fungus. So a diabetic, after washing his feet, should apply a cream or an ointment like lanolin between his toes.

A diabetic should never move bare- footed. In his home, he should wear light slippers. While going out he should wear soft (e.g., canvas) shoes. Tight or pointed shoes are not desirable for a diabetic because they obstruct blood-circulation. A diabetic woman should not wear pencil- heel or high-heel shoes or sandals. New shoes should initially be worn only for short periods so that a bite does not develop.

Foot Care DO’s and DON’Ts


  • Check your feet daily for red spots, bruises, cuts, blisters, and dryness or cracks in the skin. Don’t forget under and between toes. Press gently and feel for tenderness or hot spots — this may indicate injury.
  • Every day, wash your feet with mild soap and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • If the skin on your feet is dry, apply a lanolin base cream (but not between the toes). If your feet perspire a lot, use talcum powder.
  • Wear good-fitting, soft shoes and clean socks. Smooth out wrinkles in socks. Choose new shoes carefully (comfort is more important than style) and break them in slowly.
  • Avoid foot injuries by wearing shoes or slippers around the house and swim slippers at the beach or pool.
  • Wear insulated boots to keep feet warm on cold days.
  • Trim toenails to the contour of your toe. If you can’t see them well or reach them easily, have someone do this for you.
  • Buff calluses with pumice stone.


  • Put hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.
  • Soak your feet (this dries out natural oils).
  • Cut corns or calluses or use corn pads or corn medication.
  • Wear shoes that are two tight or worn out, or round garters or tight socks that cut off circulation.

A diabetic should immediately consult his doctor, if :-

  1. There is pain, itching, swelling or numbness of the legs.
  2. The skin of the leg suddenly changes color.
  3. A leg-wound gets infected and an ulcer is formed.
  4. A foot-disorder does not improve with home remedies, within a short time.

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