If you have diabetes, you may well suffer from dry feet – causing the skin to peel and crack. Diabetes and dry feet commonly go hand-in-glove (or should that be foot-in-shoe?). It is a common symptom of diabetes, and happens because the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your feet no longer work properly. 

There are several things that you can do to ensure and maintain healthy skin on your feet. Here are our 5 top tips…

1. Wash And Dry Carefully

For individuals living with diabetes, the practice of washing feet daily plays a crucial role in preventing complications. It’s recommended to use a mild, neutral soap, which is gentle on the skin and less likely to cause irritation. This simple, yet effective diabetic foot care routine helps in maintaining the integrity of your skin, reducing the risk of infections.

The temperature of the water should be warm but not hot. Hot water can exacerbate skin dryness and may cause unnoticed burns due to diabetic neuropathy. Warm water, on the other hand, is soothing and effective in cleaning without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

When washing, pay special attention to the entire foot area, including the often-neglected regions such as the soles and the spaces between the toes. This thorough cleansing is crucial in diabetic foot hygiene, as it removes dirt and bacteria, reducing the risk of infections like athlete’s foot, which can have more severe implications for diabetic individuals.

After washing, it’s essential to dry your feet attentively, focusing on every area, especially between the toes. Moisture trapped in these areas can create a breeding ground for fungal infections. Use a soft, clean towel and pat your feet gently rather than rubbing vigorously. This careful drying method is a vital step in diabetic foot care, as it helps prevent skin breakdown and infections.

2. Use A Moisturising Lotion

There are many moisturising lotions available for diabetic skin, and your podiatrist will be able to recommend one. The lotion will keep your skin soft and moist. Don’t put the lotion between your toes, as extra moisture there can lead to infection.

It’s crucial to understand the unique needs of diabetic skin care. When selecting a moisturising lotion, look for options that are specifically formulated for sensitive or diabetic skin. These lotions typically avoid harsh chemicals and fragrances that can irritate or dry out the skin, which is particularly important for those managing diabetes-related skin sensitivity.

Ingredients such as glycerin, dimethicone, lanolin, and certain natural oils can be beneficial in a diabetic moisturiser. They help in retaining moisture and protecting the skin barrier without causing irritation. Avoid lotions with alcohol, fragrances, or dyes, as they can be drying and irritating.

Apply the lotion immediately after washing and gently drying your feet. This helps to lock in moisture. Apply a thin, even layer of lotion over the entire foot, but be cautious to avoid the areas between your toes. Excess moisture in these areas can increase the risk of fungal infections.

Regular application is key. Depending on your skin’s dryness, you might need to moisturise your feet once or twice a day. Consistency in this routine can significantly prevent skin complications associated with diabetes.

While using a moisturising lotion, regularly monitor your feet for any changes, such as increased dryness, redness, or signs of infection. These could indicate a need for a different type of moisturiser or additional medical attention.

Always consider consulting with your healthcare provider or podiatrist for personalised recommendations. They can suggest the best moisturising products that align with your specific diabetic foot care needs. This personalised approach is crucial for effective diabetes management and foot care.

3. Keep Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can help. When your body is healthy and well hydrated, you will see improvements in your skin too. It is recommended that you drink between 1.6-2 litres of water a day.

It’s also important to remember that skin hydration starts from within. Along with topical moisturisers, ensure you’re drinking enough water to keep your body and skin well-hydrated. This internal hydration, combined with the right moisturising lotion, forms a comprehensive approach to managing diabetic foot care.

4. Think Carefully About Your Shoe Choices

People with diabetes are advised not to walk around barefoot, because small cuts and abrasions can lead to far more serious conditions. However, your feet won’t be happy spending all of their time stuffed into shoes. Consider footwear that allows your feet to breathe.

When choosing shoes, it’s essential for those with diabetes to look for options that combine comfort, protection, and breathability. Ideally, diabetic footwear should have a wide toe box to prevent crowding of the toes, reducing the risk of sores or blisters. Look for shoes made from materials that allow air circulation to keep the feet dry, as moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. 

Additionally, opting for shoes with good cushioning and arch support can help distribute weight evenly, minimising pressure on any part of the foot. It’s often beneficial to have your shoes professionally fitted to ensure proper size and comfort. 

Diabetic individuals should also consider changing their shoes throughout the day, as feet can swell, changing the fit and comfort of the shoes. Remember, the right shoes are a crucial part of diabetic foot care, significantly reducing the risk of foot injuries and complications.

5. See Your Podiatrist Regularly

If you have diabetes, you should see your podiatrist on a weekly basis – and you can always book another appointment if you are particularly worried about your dry feet. Podiatrists are specially trained in diabetic foot care and will be able to help with any issues. Check your feet each day and tell your podiatrist about anything you have noticed – for example, a sore that won’t heal or any signs of redness or swelling.

Diabetes And Dry Feet? Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do…

If you’re suffering from diabetes and dry feet, and need further advice, it’s important to get professional insights. Removing dry skin on your feet often includes using harsh chemicals or metal files, and you may be tempted to do this yourself. If you have diabetes – or suspect that you might – you should avoid these methods. Any small cuts or abrasions can easily develop into much more serious conditions in a person with diabetes. 

Persistent dry skin can also lead to infections, so always make sure that you raise any concerns with your podiatrist. Keeping your feet healthy is vital – and your podiatrist is here to help.

At Northwich Foot Clinic, our team of experienced podiatrists are adept at treating dry feet caused by diabetes. We provide tailored care packages that will meet your individual needs, and we are audited and accredited by the College of Podiatry. To book your first appointment, use our simple online booking form or call us on 01606 45077.

Categories: Podiatry