Happy feet this winter

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." Dr Seuss. 


If you live with diabetes, winter can be a harsh time for these most valuable body parts. Here are some tips on how you can keep your feet happy this winter.


Keep your feet warm and dry


Cold feet will reduce your blood flow and add to any numbness you may already feel. 


Going barefoot is not recommended if you have diabetes because it places your feet at great risk of injury. In winter, it's too cold anyway!


Keep your feet warm with a comfortable pair of shoes or slippers. Drying your feet well after a shower, especially in between the toes, helps to reduce soggy skin and dry feet equals warm feet.


Exercise is great too. Exercise can keep your blood flowing, banish the winter blues, and keep you warm all at the same time.


Wear good socks or stockings


Start by making sure that your socks are the correct size.


Socks that are too large will bunch up and rub your skin, and socks that are too small may restrict your blood flow.


Also check that the top of the socks are not too tight. Wool and cotton or blends are the best option for warmth and to absorb any sweat. 


Ladies knee-high stockings can cut blood flow to legs and feet if they are too tight, so buy full stockings if you can, as they are best.


Check your socks before you put them on for rough seams or prickles. Wash your socks daily to reduce bacteria. And although it is tempting to wear just socks around the house in winter, slipping over is a risk when you wear them, so socks with shoes are best.


Wear your best shoes inside and outside the home


Ill-fitting shoes can cause damage to your feet. They may rub and cause blisters. If there is long term pressure they may also deform the feet.


Your shoes ideally should be a finger-width longer than your feet, wide and deep to allow for a natural spread of your toes, and have a smooth, soft and supportive lining. 


Always check your shoes for rough edges or stones inside them before you put your feet in them. Remember that your podiatrist can help when choosing new shoes.


Banish dry and cracking heels


Moisturiser applied to your feet daily will assist in preventing drying and cracking of your skin. It is important to avoid cracked skin on your heels because those cracks provide an entry for bacteria which can lead to infection.


Don't burn your feet trying to keep them warm


If you have any numbness in your feet, your ability to sense heat on the skin can disappear.


Check your bath water before stepping in with your fingers first.


Place your feet at least three metres away from heaters and avoid placing your feet directly on heat packs or hot water bottles.


Make sure you turn off your electric blanket before going to bed too as this can dry out all of your skin.


The best advice may be oft repeated but the irritation of reading it again is nothing compared to your regret if things go wrong: Check your feet daily.


For extra tips, see our fact sheet.


For any questions about keeping your feet happy this winter, talk to one of our friendly health professionals on 1300 136 588. 

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