DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE
The U.S. Government wants a couple of good feet. Yours.
One of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), has published a useful booklet about feet called "Take Care of Your Feet for a Lifetime."
NIDDK has directed the booklet to people with diabetes because the disease can impair the circulation and diminish nerve sensations in the feet. The feet are especially prone to injury and infection and frequently these conditions go unnoticed. Furthermore, the feet in diabetes can be slow to heal.
The feet are a major focus in diabetes. Neglect of the feet in diabetes is a leading cause of amputation.
Although designed for people with diabetes, the NIDDK tips for foot care seem sane and sensible for all of us, especially those of us whom the French say are in our "troisieme age" (third age).
Among the valuable foot care tips the booklet provides for the many who have diabetes (and the many more who do not) are the following:
- Check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, red spots, swelling, anything that may not be normal. Use a mirror to check the bottoms of your feet or ask a family member for help if you have trouble seeing them. (Just before bedtime is a good time to do this).
- Wash your feet every day in warm, not hot, water and dry your feet well, particularly between the toes.
- Keep the skin of your feet soft and smooth by rubbing a thin coat of skin lotion daily over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes, and by smoothing corns and calluses gently with a pumice stone.
- Keep your toenails trimmed straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Walking barefoot can be a hazard to your feet.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold by, for example, wearing shoes at the beach and on hot pavement and by wearing socks at night if your feet get cold.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down at least 2 or 3 times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.
The booklet, "Take Care of Your Feet for a Lifetime" (N.I.H. publication 98-4285) is available free. To obtain a copy, write:1 Diabetes Way, Bethesda, MD 20892-3600 or call 800-438-5383, a message number, giving the name of the booklet and your name and mailing address.