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Diabetes: Steps for Foot-Washing

Topic Overview

Because you have diabetes, you need to wash your feet carefully each day. Post this list of proper foot-washing steps in your bathroom.

Wash and dry your feet

  1. Use warm (not hot) water. Check the water temperature with your wrists, not your feet. You can soak your feet for about 10 minutes if you want to.
  2. Wash all areas of your feet, especially the underside of your toes and between them. Use a mild soap.
  3. Pat your feet dry. Don't rub the skin on your feet.
  4. Dry carefully between your toes. If the skin on your feet stays moist, bacteria or a fungus can grow, which can lead to infection.

After washing

  1. Apply lanolin or other moisturizing skin cream to keep the skin on your feet soft and to prevent calluses and cracks. But do not put the cream between your toes.
  2. Clean underneath your toenails carefully. Do not use a sharp object to clean underneath your toenails. If you can't see well, have someone do this for you or have your foot specialist do it regularly.
  3. Trim and file your toenails straight across. Trimming them straight across instead of rounding them will help prevent ingrown toenails. Use a nail clipper, not scissors. Use an emery board to smooth the edges. Do not use a sharp-pointed file or stick to clean around the nail. If you can't see well or if your nails are thick, split, or yellowed, have them trimmed by your doctor or a foot specialist (podiatrist).
  4. Use a pumice stone to prevent calluses only if your doctor has shown you how to use it properly.
  5. Put on clean socks daily.

Note:

Do not use strong antiseptic soaps, chemicals (such as Epsom salt; iodine; or corn, callus, or wart removers), or perfumed skin lotions on your feet.

Do not cut or pick at the skin (cuticles) around your toenails.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Last Revised September 26, 2012

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