For many, the first step toward better health starts with better foot care.
This is especially true for the 20.8 million Americans who have diabetes, of which 6.2 million have yet to be diagnosed.
Keeping feet healthy is an essential part of diabetes self-care. Since diabetes affects the nerves and blood vessels in the feet, a daily care regimen can help prevent such serious medical problems as neuropathy, poor circulation and other complications that can lead to amputation.
To provide practical foot care information, the American Diabetes Association has published "101 Tips on Foot Care for People with Diabetes, 2nd Edition" ($14.95) by Neil M. Scheffler, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA and Jessie H. Ahroni, Ph.D., ARNP, CDE, BC-ADM.
The book provides the necessary information for daily care, while recognizing the changes that can lead to serious problems.
In an easy-to-read format, the book covers common foot problems, preventative measures, weight and foot problems, changes due to aging, washing the feet, preventing athlete's foot, toenail care, wearing the proper shoes and socks, treating minor foot problems, exercising and identifying major problems.
"This book is a vital resource for people with diabetes to help save many needless amputations. Especially since the two- to five-year mortality rate is so high following amputation, we wish to also save many lives," said Dr. Scheffler.
Here are a few tips to help you start caring for your feet:
• Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
• Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters.
• Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health team.
• Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
• Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub skin lotion on your feet, but not between toes.
• Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
• Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot.