Cold weather adds a different aspect for your feet if you are living with diabetes. As the weather cools off and you’re looking for warmer footwear you can make plans that will make foot care easier. Preventative care can avoid many sad issues.
Shoes: You are not defined by the way your shoes look – go for fit first. Remember that you look downward at your own feet, so maybe they look larger or not as pretty from your vantage point, but everyone else is more interested in you than your shoes. If they even look at your shoes, they have a different perspective and do not see large shoes. Shoes that fit your feet well will help you prevent the rubbed spots and blisters which can lead to infection and other issues of delayed healing that often goes with diabetes. Well-fitted shoes will help you feel like moving around to avoid problems with circulation as you maintain your exercise routines. You can get stylish shoes in designs and sizes that will not cause you foot problems.
You will benefit from more than one style of shoes. Have as many pairs of your favorite stylish shoes as you like. Then, some good walking shoes can be useful and appropriate for shopping and exercise. I suggest that you keep an open pair (casual, rugged sandals) that you can wear with cotton or other natural fiber socks which will help your feet stay warmer. The open shoes will permit freedom and air contact for your toes and heels while the socks still keep you warmer. You can wear your ‘granola’ shoes around the house evenings and weekends if your work style doesn’t encourage such casual footwear.
Socks: Lots of socks! I would recommend natural fiber socks because synthetic fibers can seem soft, but the threads can be irritating. They just don’t give. Clean dry socks are going to help you keep your feet warm while avoiding irritation from wet threads or avoid the excess moisture problems that can revive athletes foot and other fungal irritations. If your socks have gotten old and the threads are covered with little bumps that feel like gravel in your shoes, go get some new ones. They don’t have to be expensive, simply do what you need – keep your feet comfortable. Socks (and shoes) that are not too tight, but which permit your feet/toes to move will contribute to the warmth that you are seeking. They will work so well that you may not need the addition of heating pads that can get too hot or give you a chance to get tangled up in the cord, etc.
Moisturizers: Lotions can be a great comfort to help exfoliate the rough skin of summer when feet were bare. You will see many warnings about lotion leading to extra moisture. Try using just a little less lotion. Taking a moment more to massage the lotion into your skin helps avoid that issue and provides circulation stimulation that has more benefits for the diabetic foot beyond soft skin. Pat your feet with a dry towel after a session with lotion to absorb any excess lotion.
Toenails: Your toenails might seem to sneak a lot of extra during the winter when you don’t look at them several times a day peeping out of sandal toes. When they get too long, they are going to cause pressure issues in your shoes. They can grow over the end of the toe curving back to dig into the toe’s tip. Make an appointment with yourself to give your toenails a good looking over at least once a week. Even better, get a pedicure or trade pedicures with someone else. While you’re checking to see if those nails need a trim, watch for spots that are quietly being rubbed red (and moving toward raw). Those spots are a hint to you to get different shoes or socks.
If you can take care of your own nails, make sure not to trim them too short. You don’t want to risk infection and irritation from even a tiny cut or snag from getting too close to the ‘quick’ on your toe. You may be able to use a file on your toenails regularly to keep them from ever getting long so long that they make you uncomfortable. If you must clip, work on toes that have been soaked in a shower or foot tub for a few minutes and are softer. Hard, dry nails can split and lead to the same infection problems.
Exercise: Moving around will help you keep your feet more comfortable because of the increased circulation. There will be blood flow, little or no tingling and more warmth from inside. “Inside warmth” is better than that achieved by socks, heating pads or drying hot water. Don’t let inclement weather keep you from moving around – you can lay out a path through your house to walk. It might not be ‘track and field’ activity, but it contributes to the exercise quota that you need.
In the event that you have a sore that doesn’t begin healing in a couple days, have tingling in your feet that doesn’t stop, have no feeling in your feet, call your doctor for an appointment. These things can be problems with diabetic feet. Neglecting them can lead to greater problems.