WELCOME TO FOOT AND NAIL CARE

Feet play a key role in our anatomy. They deserve quality medical attention and should not be neglected or left uncared for, particularly in patients diagnosed with diabetes. This is precisely why podology, a new medical specialty, emerged in recent decades: to treat foot problems with modern scientific methods and to resolve them before surgical intervention becomes necessary.

DID YOU KNOW ?

Each foot contains 26 bones and over 100 ligaments.

Your feet contain over a quarter of the bones in your body.

The skin on your feet has over 7,000 nerve endings.

There are over 125,000 sweat glands on each foot, more than anywhere else in the body.

Your feet produce an eggcup’s worth of sweat every day.

What can I do to take care of my feet?

Look at your feet every day to check for problems.

* Wash your feet in warm water every day. Make sure the water is not too hot by testing the temperature with your elbow. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.

* Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems. Checking every day is even more important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet.

* If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them. Do not put lotion between your toes.

* File corns and calluses gently with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this after your bath or shower.

* Cut your toenails once a week or when needed. Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.

* Always wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet from injuries.

Always wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet.

* Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters. Do not wear socks or knee-high stockings that are too tight below your knee.

* Wear shoes that fit well. Shop for shoes at the end of the day when your feet are bigger. Break in shoes slowly. Wear them 1 to 2 hours each day for the first few weeks.

* Before putting your shoes on, feel the insides to make sure they have no sharp edges or objects that might injure your feet.

How can my doctor help me take care of my feet?

* Tell your doctor right away about any foot problems.

* Your doctor should do a complete foot exam every year.

* Ask your doctor to look at your feet at each diabetes checkup. To make sure your doctor checks your feet, take off your shoes and socks before your doctor comes into the room.

*Take off your shoes and socks so your doctor will check your feet.

* Ask your doctor to check how well the nerves in your feet sense feeling.

* Ask your doctor to check how well blood is flowing to your legs and feet.

* Ask your doctor to show you the best way to trim your toenails. Ask what lotion or cream to use on your legs and feet.

*If you cannot cut your toenails or you have a foot problem, ask your doctor to send you to a foot doctor. A doctor who cares for feet is called a podiatrist.

How can special shoes help my feet?

Special shoes can be made to fit softly around your sore feet or feet that have changed shape. These special shoes help protect your feet. Medicare and other health insurance programs may pay for special shoes. Talk with your doctor about how and where to get them.

What can I do to take care of my skin?

* After you wash with a mild soap, make sure you rinse and dry yourself well. Check places where water can hide, such as under the arms, under the breasts, between the legs, and between the toes.
Keep your skin moist by washing with a mild soap and using lotion or cream after you wash.
* Keep your skin moist by using a lotion or cream after you wash. Ask your doctor to suggest one.
* Drink lots of fluids, such as water, to keep your skin moist and healthy.
* Wear all-cotton underwear. Cotton allows air to move around your body better.
* Check your skin after you wash. Make sure you have no dry, red, or sore spots that might lead to an infection.
* Tell your doctor about any skin problems.

What can I do to take care of my skin?

* After you wash with a mild soap, make sure you rinse and dry yourself well. Check places where water can hide, such as under the arms, under the breasts, between the legs, and between the toes.
Keep your skin moist by washing with a mild soap and using lotion or cream after you wash.
* Keep your skin moist by using a lotion or cream after you wash. Ask your doctor to suggest one.
* Drink lots of fluids, such as water, to keep your skin moist and healthy.
* Wear all-cotton underwear. Cotton allows air to move around your body better.
* Check your skin after you wash. Make sure you have no dry, red, or sore spots that might lead to an infection.
* Tell your doctor about any skin problems.

Fingernail health

How to keep your fingernails healthy and strong?

Here’s what you need to know to keep your fingernails in tiptop shape.
Take a close look at your nails. Are they strong and healthy looking? Or do you see ridges, dents, or areas of unusual color or shape? Many less than desirable nail conditions can be avoided through proper care, but some actually indicate an illness that requires attention.

Fingernails: What to look for?

Your nails — composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin — grow from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticle. As new cells grow, older cells become hard and compacted and are eventually pushed out toward your fingertips.

Healthy nails are smooth, without ridges or grooves. They’re uniform in color and consistency and free of spots or discoloration. Nails can develop harmless conditions, such as vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Vertical ridges become more prominent with age. Nails can also develop white lines or spots due to injury, but these eventually grow out with the nail.

Not all nail conditions are normal, however. Some are signs of diseases that require medical attention. See your doctor if you notice these changes in your nails:

*  Yellow discoloration
*  Separation of your nail from the nail bed (onycholysis)
*  Indentations that run across your nails (Beau’s lines)
*  Nail pitting
*  Opaque or white nails
*  Curled nails

Nail care tips

No nail care product alone can give you healthy nails. But following these simple guidelines can help you keep your nails looking their best:
* Don’t abuse your nails. To prevent nail damage, don’t use your fingernails as tools to pick, poke or pry things.
* Don’t bite your nails or pick at your cuticles. These habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your nail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection (paronychia).
* Keep your nails dry and clean. This prevents bacteria, fungi or other organisms from growing under the nail. Clean under the nails regularly and thoroughly dry your hands and feet after bathing. Wear rubber gloves when using soap and water for prolonged periods.
* Trim nails and file nails regularly. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Use a sharp manicure scissors or clippers and an emery board to smooth nail edges. Trimming and filing are easier and safer if done just after bathing or soaking the nails.
* Never pull off hangnails — doing so almost always results in ripping living tissue. Instead clip off hangnails, leaving a slight angle outward.
* Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that place excessive pressure on your toes or pinch your toes may cause your nails to grow into surrounding tissue.
*Moisturize your nails frequently. Nails need moisture just like your skin does. Rub lotion into your nails when moisturizing your hands. Be sure to apply a moisturizer after removing fingernail polish.
* Watch for problems. If you have a nail problem that doesn’t seem to go away on its own or is associated with other signs and symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.

Special considerations: Manicures and weak nails.

If you rely on manicures to make your nails look good, keep a few things in mind. Don’t have your cuticles removed — it can lead to nail infection. Also, check to be sure that your nail technician properly sterilizes all tools used during your manicure. Using unsterilized tools may transmit yeast or bacterial infections.

Weak or brittle fingernails can be a challenge to toughen up. The following tips can help you protect them, making your nails less likely to split or break.

* Keep your nails short, square shaped and slightly rounded on top. Trim brittle nails after a bath or a 15-minute hand soak in bath oil. Then apply a moisturizer.
* Moisturize your nails and cuticles several times a day and after your nails have been in water. Also, apply moisturizer at bedtime and cover your hands with cotton gloves.
* Apply a nail hardener, but avoid products containing toluene sulfonamide or formaldehyde. These chemicals can cause redness or irritate the skin.
* Apply nail polish. A thin coat of nail polish may help keep moisture in the nail. Remove and reapply the nail polish after a week.
* Don’t use nail polish remover more than once a week. When you do need a remover, avoid those that use acetone, which dries nails.
* Take a biotin supplement. Taking 2.5 milligrams of biotin daily may increase the thickness of nails.
Dietary changes that supposedly strengthen nails don’t work. Unless you’re malnourished — not getting proper nutrition through your diet — taking daily multivitamins won’t strengthen your nails either. Taking gelatin supplements or soaking your nails in gelatin also won’t help.

It’s easy to neglect your nails. But a little basic nail care can go a long way to keeping your nails in healthy condition.

Diabetes problems

What are diabetes problems?

Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause diabetes problems. This high blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can damage many parts of the body, such as the heart, blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys. Heart and blood vessel disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes. You can do a lot to prevent or slow down diabetes problems. This information is about feet and skin problems caused by diabetes. You will learn the things you can do each day and during each year to stay healthy and prevent diabetes problems.

What should I do each day to stay healthy with diabetes?

Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause diabetes problems. This high blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can damage many parts of the body, such as the heart, blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys. Heart and blood vessel disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes. You can do a lot to prevent or slow down diabetes problems. This information is about feet and skin problems caused by diabetes. You will learn the things you can do each day and during each year to stay healthy and prevent diabetes problems.

How can diabetes hurt my feet?

High blood glucose from diabetes causes two problems that can hurt your feet:

Nerve damage. One problem is damage to nerves in your legs and feet. With damaged nerves, you might not feel pain, heat, or cold in your legs and feet. A sore or cut on your foot may get worse because you do not know it is there. This lack of feeling is caused by nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy. Nerve damage can lead to a sore or an infection.

Poor blood flow. The second problem happens when not enough blood flows to your legs and feet. Poor blood flow makes it hard for a sore or infection to heal.This problem is called peripheral vascular disease, also called PVD.  Smoking when you have diabetes makes blood flow problems much worse.

These two problems can work together to cause a foot problem. Make sure you wear shoes that fit well.

For example, you get a blister from shoes that do not fit. You do not feel the pain from the blister because you have nerve damage in your foot. Next, the blister gets infected. If blood glucose is high, the extra glucose feeds the germs. Germs grow and the infection gets worse. Poor blood flow to your legs and feet can slow down healing. Once in a while a bad infection never heals. The infection might cause gangrene. If a person has gangrene, the skin and tissue around the sore die. The area becomes black and smelly.

To keep gangrene from spreading, a doctor may have to do surgery to cut off a toe, foot, or part of a leg. Cutting off a body part is called an amputation.

What are common diabetes foot problems?

Anyone can have corns, blisters, and other foot problems. If you have diabetes and your blood glucose stays high, these foot problems can lead to infections.

Corns and calluses are thick layers of skin caused by too much rubbing or pressure on the same spot. Corns and calluses can become infected.

Blisters can form if shoes always rub the same spot. Wearing shoes that do not fit or wearing shoes without socks can cause blisters. Blisters can become infected.

Ingrown toenails happen when an edge of the nail grows into the skin. The skin can get red and infected. Ingrown toenails can happen if you cut into the corners of your toenails when you trim them. You can also get an ingrown toenail if your shoes are too tight. If toenail edges are sharp, smooth them with an emery board.

A bunion forms when your big toe slants toward the small toes and the place between the bones near the base of your big toe grows big. This spot can get red, sore, and infected. Bunions can form on one or both feet. Pointed shoes may cause bunions. Bunions often run in the family. Surgery can remove bunions.

Plantar warts are caused by a virus. The warts usually form on the bottoms of the feet.

Hammertoes form when a foot muscle gets weak. Diabetic nerve damage may cause the weakness. The weakened muscle makes the tendons in the foot shorter and makes the toes curl under the feet. You may get sores on the bottoms of your feet and on the tops of your toes. The feet can change their shape. Hammertoes can cause problems with walking and finding shoes that fit well. Hammertoes can run in the family. Wearing shoes that are too short can also cause hammertoes.

Dry and cracked skin can happen because the nerves in your legs and feet do not get the message to keep your skin soft and moist. Dry skin can become cracked. Cracks allow germs to enter and cause infection. If your blood glucose is high, it feeds the germs and makes the infection worse.

Athlete’s foot is a fungus that causes itchiness, redness, and cracking of the skin. The cracks between the toes allow germs to get under the skin and cause infection. If your blood glucose is high, it feeds the germs and makes the infection worse. The infection can spread to the toenails and make them thick, yellow, and hard to cut.

Tell your doctor about any foot problem as soon as you see it.

How can diabetes hurt my skin?

Diabetes can hurt your skin in two ways:

* If your blood glucose is high, your body loses fluid. With less fluid in your body, your skin can get dry. Dry skin can be itchy, causing you to scratch and make it sore. Also, dry skin can crack. Cracks allow germs to enter and cause infection. If your blood glucose is high, it feeds germs and makes infections worse. You may get dry skin on your legs, feet, elbows, and other places on your body.

Drinking fluids helps keep your skin moist and healthy.

* Nerve damage can decrease the amount you sweat. Sweating helps keep your skin soft and moist. Decreased sweating in your feet and legs can cause dry skin.

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