Advice

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Older Persons – followed by general diabetic foot care advice

As an older person, it is important that you pay special attention to your feet with regard to foot hygiene, the cutting of nails, the type of sock and stockings/hosiery worn, type of shoe and other matters concerning the feet.

NAILS

Your nails should be attended to on a regular basis. The nails are usually quite thick in many cases and therefore it would be best to do nail cutting after bath time, as the nail would be much easier to cut. Nails should be cut making sure that you follow the length and shape of the toe so as to minimize damage to the nail during the regrowth stage. NEVER probe the nail groove or any part of the nail. Should you be experiencing any difficulty with your nails or should you suffer or any pain or discomfort, consult your Foot Health Practitioner for help and advice.

CORNS AND CALLOUSES

It is important for the elderly patient to know that any corn or callous should be treated by a qualified Practitioner and that removal of these disorders should not be attempted by the patient. Equally NEVER use any corn cures as the medication in the preparations could have a serious effect on you.

If you have sweaty feet normally, then clean the feet, dry them and apply talcum powder. If you suffer from dry feet, then use of a cream will help to maintain the feet. It is important that you change to a clean pair of socks/stockings every day.

HEAT AND COLD

Due to age many cases have problems with circulation and because of this you should avoid very hot baths, electric blankets should be turned off at bedtime and you should not sit too close to fireplaces or heaters.

FOOTWEAR

Shoes must be chosen carefully. It is best to have lace-up and soft upper shoes so that your feet will be held firmly during walking. To be sure that the shoes are suited for your feet, test walk on a solid area of the store NOT ON THE CARPETED FLOOR.

It is best to have you feet measured when buying shoes. Feet must be measured when standing, as this is when the true size is known.

It is important that you wear socks/stockings that will not restrict the movement of the foot. Avoid going barefoot.

FIRST-AID

If any minor injury should happen to you (e.g. cuts, bruises) clean the area and apply a mild antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon). DO NOT apply adhesive strapping directly to the area or wrap the strapping around toes, as this will restrict circulation.

Blisters on the feet should be left alone and should not be punctured (pricked) to release the fluid, but should be left to dry up on their own. Should they open of their own accord and discharge their contents, dress with an antiseptic dressing.

It will be necessary to visit your Practitioner or G.P. if the injury is not responding to the treatment.

UNHEALTHY FEET

If you notice any discharge coming from a break in the skin, from a nail or corn, it is important that you contact your Practitioner.

If there is pain, itching, swelling or colour changes in the feet or leg, contact your Practitioner.

 

DIABETIC ADVICE

DIABETES CAN LEAD TO:

  • nerve damage in the feet and legs resulting in a loss of sensation, pins and needles or possible numbness and burning sensation-this is called neuropathy
  • a reduced blood supply to the feet and legs resulting in cold, painful feet

This means that injuries to the feet may go unnoticed, be slow to heal and can quickly become infected. It is important that your feet are examined as part of your Annual Review each year so that any problems can be treated early on.

To prevent problems it is important that you care for you feet. The following information should help:

  • Wash feet daily with a mild soap and luke warm water.
  • Dry feet thoroughly especially between the toes, using a soft towel or tissue.
  • For moist/sweaty skin between the toes apply surgical spirit with cotton wool.
  • To prevent dry skin use moisturising cream, but avoid applying between the toes.
  • When cutting toenails, follow the curve of the nail and avoid digging into the corners. Do not cut nails too short.
  • Use a pair of nail nippers and file the nail to avoid sharp edges.
  • For problem nails such as ingrown or thickened nails, or if you have poor eyesight consult a Foot Health Practitioner.
  • Corns and calluses should be dealt with by a Foot Health Practitioner. Do not use razor blades, corn plasters, etc. However you may use a pumice stone to smooth hard skin and corns.
  • Choose shoes with a fastening such as laces to hold the foot in place. Wear closed shoes with a deep, round toe box to allow plenty of room for the toes.
  • Have feet measured when buying new shoes. Always wear in new shoes gradually to prevent rubs/blisters.
  • Avoid walking barefoot-always wear shoes/slippers even indoors to protect your feet.
  • Change socks daily. Wear socks or stockings, which fit correctly and are in good repair.
  • Look at your feet daily. Check between the toes and underneath your feet, you may need to use a mirror.
  • Things to look out for:Check shoes inside and out, before putting them on, for cracks, pebbles or sharp edges, which may irritate the skin. You may not be able to feel these if you have a loss of sensation.
    • cuts, scratches and blisters
    • any change in colour (red, black, blue white)
    • sudden changes in temperature
    • any discharge from a break or crack in the skin
    • any unusual swelling and painful areas

 

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