When blood flow is poor or when there is nerve damage in the legs and feet, serious problems can develop. This can lead to a diminished ability of the body to heal itself, often leading to infections that can have consequences as serious as amputations. It is important to take the following points into consideration to prevent infections of the feet.
- Shoes that fit properly are essential. Feet swell during the day, so a shoe that fits in the morning may be tight by the evening. Leather breathes and is usually better than synthetic materials which can cause sweaty feet that are a breeding ground for bacteria. Orthotics may be needed to ensure a proper fit. Sandals, particularly thong types, can lead to rubbing, making feet vulnerable to cuts. Seamless athletic socks are best. Walking barefoot is not advisable.
- Foot inspections are crucial to finding anything out of the ordinary. A tiny splinter or callous can be the seed for foot ulcers. Unusual foot odors should also be noted as they could be an indication of a festering infection. These problems are not likely to go away on their own.
- Feet should be washed in warm soapy water and carefully dried, particularly between the toes. Moisturizers are fine for the bottom of the feet, but never between the toes. Toe nails should be clipped straight across.
- Medication should not be used on feet unless directed so by the health care team.
- Corn and callous removal should only be done by a podiatrist.
- Regular testing for levels of neuropathies is advised, and can be done by either the individual or his/her podiatrist.