PEP Talk

A closer look - foot examination

It is important for people with diabetes to check the tops and bottoms of their feet. Daily foot exams are an important part of your daily routine to identify any problems. A closer look at your foot can help guide you to identify some of the issues you need to look out for.

Start now and prevent Diabetic foot ulcers!

Top of Your Foot

Your toes – Look for changes in the shape of your toes. Are they nice and straight or do they tilt up and even hit the top of your shoe? If they do rub on your shoe, you will see signs of this either with redness or thickening of the skin that is called a corn. See a healthcare professional for even a small change.

You should have 5 toes. The largest or first toe is sometimes called the big or great toe. The smallest or fifth toe is sometimes called the little or baby toe. – Are either of these toes red on the outside? This redness could be a sign that your shoes are too tight. Make sure your shoes are the right size by having them fitted by a footwear professional.
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Your toenails – Your toenails should be well cared for, clean and clipped. If you are unable to reach your feet easily or do not have feeling in your feet, have a healthcare professional cut your toenails for you. 2

At the base of your toes - Look on your foot where a shoe would bend when you are walking – Did you know that the seams in many shoes can rub against your foot? If you have neuropathy and do not have sensation in your foot, you would not feel this pain. This could lead to a wound, so watch for signs of redness or irritation in this area. 3

On the top of your foot – Pay attention to the colour of your feet and the skin’s texture. Is it shiny or red? This could be a sign of poor circulation in your feet. 4

Bottom of Your Foot

Your toes – If your toes are bent up, you could have calluses on the tips of your toes. If you do you should see a foot specialist to care for your calluses and also to help you select footwear that would help prevent them. Remember to protect your toes by wearing closed toe shoes both indoors and out. 1

Between your toes – Be sure to dry thoroughly between your toes and do not put cream there. This is a dark, warm and moist area and you could get a fungal infection here. 2

The ball of your foot – Do you have any areas of thick or hardened skin on your foot? This could be a callus. Have a healthcare professional look at it and do not attempt to remove it on your own. They will also help you select footwear that can prevent or reduce callus buildup. 3

Your heels – Look out for cracked, dry skin. If you do notice cracked skin, moisturize with a gentle, unscented cream and have a healthcare professional look at it as soon as possible. Also look at the back of your heel for redness to make sure your shoes are not rubbing and they fit. 4

Your Entire Foot

Did you know that healthcare professionals can check the feeling you have in your feet by using a monofilament – like a small piece of fishing line – to touch different parts of your foot and painlessly check for sensation. Are your feet numb, painful or tingling? This may mean that you have neuropathy where you lose the sense of feeling in your foot. Have a healthcare professional examine your feet as soon as possible. Also be careful where you step and check your shoes before putting them on to reduce the chance of injury. 1

Examine your feet daily

To check your feet, look at both the tops and bottoms of your feet for redness, sores, or blisters; and dry, callused, or cracked skin. Pay attention to the way your feet feel – are they numb, painful, or tingling? Any of these signs can mean there is a problem that requires attention as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications.

Why is it important to check my feet?

The sooner you notice changes to your feet and get help, the better! It is important to find and treat any problems before any complications develop, like ulcers (sores), or infections.

People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing neuropathy, nerve damage that results in lack of feeling, including in the feet. If you cannot feel your feet, you may have a sore or blister and not realize it. Left untreated, injuries can lead to complications, perhaps even to amputation.

When you check your feet daily, you can find problems before they worsen, get them treated quickly, and improve your foot health.

If you cannot check your feet

Sometimes, people cannot bend down to their feet or lift their feet to check them. If this is the case, try putting a mirror on the floor to help you see the bottoms of your feet. If this does not help, ask a friend or family member to check your feet.