People with neuropathy need to take special care of their feet. The nerves to the feet are the longest in the body and are the ones most often affected by neuropathy. Loss of sensation in the feet means that sores or injuries may not be noticed and may become ulcerated or infected. Circulation problems also increase the risk of foot ulcers.
More than half of all lower-limb amputations in the United States occur in people with diabetes—86,000 amputations per year. Doctors estimate that nearly half of the amputations caused by neuropathy and poor circulation could have been prevented by careful foot care.
Follow these steps to take care of your feet:
Clean your feet daily, using warm—not hot—water and a mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet. Dry them with a soft towel and dry carefully between your toes.
Inspect your feet and toes every day for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, calluses, or other problems. Use a mirror—laying a mirror on the floor works well—or get help from someone else if you cannot see the bottoms of your feet. Notify your health care provider of any problems.
Moisturize your feet with lotion, but avoid getting the lotion between your toes.
After a bath or shower, file corns and calluses gently with a pumice stone.
Each week or when needed, cut your toenails to the shape of your toes and file the edges with an emery board.
Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries. Prevent skin irritation by wearing thick, soft, seamless socks.
Wear shoes that fit well and allow your toes to move. Break in new shoes gradually by first wearing them for only an hour at a time.
Before putting your shoes on, look them over carefully and feel the insides with your hand to make sure they have no tears, sharp edges, or objects in them that might injure your feet.
If you need help taking care of your feet, make an appointment to see a foot doctor, also called a podiatrist.