During the COVID-19 pandemic, diabetes patients may be wondering how to take care of diabetic foot wounds. Right now, it’s important for people to prevent injuries and stay out of already-burdened emergency rooms and hospitals, which could increase their own risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Here are 12 preventative measures for diabetic foot care:
1. Don’t walk barefoot at home.
There are too many things you can step on with an unprotected foot. Many patients with diabetes don’t have good sensation in their feet, so if they step on something like a child’s toy, they might not be able to feel their foot injury and it could eventually develop into something worse. Gym shoes are better than house shoes or slippers to keep feet protected.
2. Check your feet every day.
What you’re looking for is anything red, hot, swollen or painful. These are all signs of infection. If something is draining, that’s also a sign that you have either an open sore or some type of blister. If you have problems with vision due to your diabetes, hold each foot up to a mirror, or have someone in your house look at your feet for you.
3. Put lotion on your feet daily.
Use lotion on your feet every single day but don’t put any between the toes. Make sure to keep your feet nice and moisturized with lotion or Vaseline or whatever you have at home. You don’t have to go to the store to get a lotion that says “diabetes” on it. It’s OK put on lotion and then cotton socks. It helps the lotion absorb, and it prevents the dry skin and cracking you can get in the heels.
4. Wash your feet daily.
I know a lot of people now are staying home in their sweats. That’s fine, but make sure to shower and wash your feet every day, and then dry them well before putting on your socks and shoes. Good hygiene is extra important.
It’s very important, not just for your circulation and your diabetes, but for your mental health, to move, move, move. There are lots of things you can do. There are free videos online you can exercise with, from yoga to tai chi to stretching or cardio. Don’t take on anything you’ve never done before, and start slowly. You can march in place while you’re watching a half-hour TV show. If you have a harder time moving, just get up during the commercials. You can walk outside. Just respect social distancing. If you are unsteady and use a walker or a cane, continue to use those devices so you don’t fall.
6. Take care of small scrapes, cuts and wounds.
For minor cuts, at the initial injury, you can clean it out with hydrogen peroxide, pat it dry, and then put an antibiotic cream on it and cover it with a Band-aid.
It doesn’t matter what kind of antibiotic cream you use — it can be Neosporin, bacitracin, or double or triple antibiotic creams. All of those creams basically work the same way to keep bacteria away. If the injury is on top of your foot, or on your toe from a tight-fitting shoe, then make sure you don’t wear that shoe and keep the pressure off those injuries.
7. Try to keep your toenails cut.
Clipping your toenails can be difficult, but it’s very important care. If you’re having a problem with longer nails, and you can’t actually cut your own toenails, get a black emery board and at least file them down a little bit. If you have a family member you trust, they can help. Don’t use any sharp objects on your feet. If you have painful calluses, thick lesions on the bottom of your feet, or corns on your toes, do not take razor blades or knives to cut those. That’s very dangerous. You’re at risk for infection. All you can do on those is a pumice stone with some lotion. When you can get to your doctor’s office, they can take care of these things for you.
8. Watch for red spots or bleeding under callouses.
If you notice any bleeding underneath the callouses on your feet, or if you see some red spots underneath, reach out to your doctor. All the podiatrists in the area use virtual visit tools like Telehealth, or you can take photos and email them to your doctor or use MyChart.
9. Take extra care of active wounds.
Always call your doctor if you have an active wound, because those need to be taken very seriously. If you’re already on a wound care regimen that your physician has prescribed, continue to use that regimen and regularly send photos to your doctor so they can gauge what you need. With these wounds, it’s important to keep them clean and change the dressings as instructed. Keep them covered. Do not let them air dry or dry out. And don’t increase your walking and your activities just because you’re going crazy at home. If the wounds are on the bottom of the foot, you need to keep sitting with your feet up. However, you can stretch and do sitting exercises. You can write the letters of the alphabet with your feet. It is important to move. Just don’t put any kind of pressure on those wounds, so they can heal. A lot of wounds will start building up some calluses around the area. You can put a little bit of lotion or Vaseline on those areas — just don’t put it on the wound.
10. Make sure your wound is not getting worse.
If your wound is getting worse, you’ll notice increased draining, an odor, redness or warmth in the area. These are all signs that you need to contact your doctor right away.
11. Control your blood sugar.
Your wounds won’t heal if your blood sugar is not controlled. This is a good time, for many, many reasons, to keep your blood sugar controlled. Your doctors are here to help you. Call them or send them a MyChart message so they can do whatever is needed, such as adjusting your insulin or oral medication.
12. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor.
If you’re unsure about something, it’s always better to call your doctor than to take things into your own hands. If you need something and don’t want to go to the pharmacy because of COVID, and a family member or friend can’t help, reach out to your doctor to see what resources they have.
The Wound Pros deploys licensed, qualified health care professionals (Physicians, Surgeons, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners) providing advanced surgical wound consultation and treatment services at the patient's bedside in long-term care facilities. Our specialty-trained health-care providers deliver wound care expertise, to develop treatment plans, to consult and guide patient treatment, and to provide in-service education to nursing staff.