How to Perform a Diabetic Foot Self-Examination

Foot inspections are an important part of total-body health and wellness, but too many people forego this important routine on the assumption that if they aren’t in pain, their feet are fine. The best way to ensure continued foot health is to complete regular foot self-examinations.

The average person should complete a thorough foot inspection weekly. Diabetics, who are at a much higher risk for foot complications, should perform this check daily. Before you get started, you’ll need a hand mirror and a stiff, monofilament wire for the sensitivity test.

Step #1
Wash your feet—don’t just let the shower water rinse your feet as an afterthought. Instead, rub lightly with soap and a loofah to remove dead skin cells and promote smooth skin. Washing your feet regularly helps avoid infections.

Step #2
Sit somewhere comfortable and maintain balance while checking the tops and sides of your feet for cuts, discolorations, and calluses. Check the bottoms of your feet for warts, discolorations, and abrasions. If you have trouble seeing the bottom of your foot, place a mirror on the ground and hold your foot over it during the examination.

Step #3
Check between the toes for corns, calluses, injuries, and skin changes that could indicate a fungal infection.

Step #4
Test your foot sensitivity with a short monofilament wire. This device is used to place light pressure on different parts of the foot to gauge sensitivity. As sensitivity decreases, balance issues can develop, and small wounds can go unnoticed until it’s too late and amputation is necessary.

Step #5
Look for Changes—run your hands over the sides, top, and bottom of your bare foot. The first few times, you may not feel anything, but over time, you’ll be better prepared to recognize something abnormal feeling. Look for lumps and bumps, but don’t ignore the underlying structure of the foot as well. Anything that looks questionable should be seen by a podiatrist right away.

Everyone should be performing a foot self-examination weekly, but diabetic patients need to be more diligent in their observations and check their feet daily. The two biggest problems with diabetic feet are neuropathy (loss of feeling) and peripheral vascular disease (a circulatory issue).
These conditions increase the risk of diabetic foot issues such as ulcers and amputation, but a thorough self-examination of about 5-15 minutes daily can help prevent and reduce complications from any foot problems that may arise. To assist in protecting your feet, try diabetic socks (something with recessed seams) and shoes (should be properly fitted and prescribed by your podiatrist).

There’s a lot you can do for your feet, but you have to actually pay attention to them to protect them. Everyone should perform a self-examination of their feet weekly, and diabetics should complete this daily. It’s like flossing—if you can just make it a habit you’ll get better reports from your podiatrist and your feet will be happy.

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