By José Hilario Hernandez Pineda
Diabetes Podiatrist and Trainer
Member of the AMQUIPAC Advisory Board
At the end of the school year, it’s common to think about where we’ll go on vacation or what we’ll do with our children to keep them entertained, but it’s also necessary to know the precautions we need to take if a family member has diabetes, be it a child or adult. Especially if we go to the beach or a resort, we need to take care of our feet as every patient with diabetes has a higher risk of getting an infection if they are barefoot, so one should always wear some kind of footwear.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOT CARE
It’s important to know that every person who lives with diabetes has to learn how to control their condition, beginning with their diet, exercise and medication, because otherwise they’ll develop problems with their eyes, feet, or develop a neuropathy (lack of sensitivity) that could affect their daily walks.
What does this mean? That every day, when you get up and at bedtime you should check your feet, especially the sole, and if you notice anything abnormal like a stain, scratch, bruise, etc., you need to visit the doctor or podiatrist and not try to heal it yourself, as this may cause a more serious problem.
FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT YOUR FEET
When you walk barefoot at home or anywhere else (bathroom, swimming pools, beaches etc.) you’re more likely to get a skin infection, such as fungi, or a cut, and as was mentioned above, anyone suffering from vascular problems or from a neuropathy can get an ulcer due to the lack of sensitivity and not notice an object buried in their sole, or simply slip and break something.
The saying says “better safe than sorry”, and this sentence is very appropriate for these cases. Since the moment we put on our shoes and socks or stockings, we need to make sure the shoes are wide, and half a number larger than our foot size, and a whole size larger if they are running shoes. This will help avoid the presence of ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, blisters or ulcers which can cause pain, and if left untreated, can get infected, and if glucose levels are high, a doctor will have to intervene, as well as a podiatrist, who will have to take some tests such as glucose uptake, check pedal pulses and with a tuning fork and monofilament, to exercise good blood glucose control.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BETTER FOOT CARE
- Use wide-toe shoe, half a number larger, and alternate it with other footwear.
- Wear cotton socks, without elastic on the toe or heel.
- Don’t self-medicate or apply anything that hasn’t been recommended by your doctor.
- Check your feet every day and if you notice anything abnormal visit your doctor or podiatrist.
- Dry your foot well with a soft towel, especially between the toes.
- Apply moisturizer at night, but not between the toes.
- Wash your feet and body with warm water, check the water temperature with your elbow.
- Don’t cut your toenails or calluses by yourself, visit a podiatrist; toenails should be straight, not round.
- Never walk barefoot, and check that your footwear doesn’t have anything inside.
- Don’t smoke or consume alcohol, as these habits are dangerous to your health.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EMERGENCY?
Anyone who has diabetes is advised to wear a bracelet or a small plate that states their doctor’s name, phone number and that of a family member so, in case of an accident, people can know your condition and direct you to a health institution. You need to check your blood sugar levels constantly and visit a doctor regularly, so you can enjoy your vacation without any risks.