Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Diabetics can't afford to wear flip-flops

Some people wear flip-flops year round. Others await the warm days of spring and summer.

Regardless, medical experts focus on the ugly side of the rubbery soles.

Podiatrists contend flip-flops can lead to heel pain and injury, and should only be worn for short periods like a trip to the beach or walking around a pool.

When it comes to diabetics, however, the risk goes one step further.

The reasons are many.

Skin Exposed

Flip-flops expose the skin and do nothing to reduce the chance of injuries to the feet.

Diabetics are prone to having nerve disease or artery disease or both. Either disease by itself causes poor blood circulation in the feet, which can lead to nerve damage.

This leaves diabetics without the normal sensation to feel pain. As a result, untreated sores can result in infections, which could lead to amputation of the foot or leg.

Diabetics must take extra precautions to care for their feet at all times.


Dr. Melissa Meredith, an endocrinologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, suggests the following:

Ask a doctor about special shoes to protect your feet. They may be covered by insurance.
Wash feet in warm water every day and dry them thoroughly.
Use lotion on feet to prevent cracked skin, athletes' foot and other conditions that can cause infections.
Keep toenails properly manicured by using a nail clipper and emery board.
See a doctor if you notice sores, cuts, calluses and other irritations that could lead to infections.

The ADA also suggests not putting oils or creams between toes because the extra moisture can lead to infection.

While not wearing flip-flops certainly plays a role in having healthy feet, the No. 1 enemy is smoking, the ADA reports.

Smoking exacerbates artery disease, causing even worse circulation.

Most diabetics who need amputations are smokers.

The good news is proper care can prevent woes.

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