Many people frequently have cold feet, as well as cold hands. Some research suggests it may be an inherited trait. This shunts blood away from our extremities to be keep our internal organs warm. People who have less body fat and therefore less insulation may be more likely to be bothered by it.
In Raynaud's syndrome , the small blood vessels overcompensate for cold temperatures. This may make the feet feel cold and appear blue and then white. In response to warm temperatures, the feet then turn red. The main medical problems that cause cold feet are decreased circulation in the extremities and nerve damage, known as neuropathy. Over time, diabetes may cause nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy , that can cause tingling and pain, and can make you lose feeling in your feet.
When you lose feeling in your feet, you may not feel a pebble inside your sock or a blister on your foot, which can lead to cuts and sores. Cuts and sores can become infected. Diabetes also can lower the amount of blood flow in your feet. Not having enough blood flowing to your legs and feet can make it hard for a sore or an infection to heal.
Sometimes, a bad infection never heals. The infection might lead to gangrene. Gangrene and foot ulcers that do not get better with treatment can lead to an amputation of your toe, foot, or part of your leg. A surgeon may perform an amputation to prevent a bad infection from spreading to the rest of your body, and to save your life.
Good foot care is very important to prevent serious infections and gangrene. Work with your health care team to make a diabetes self-care plan, which is an action plan for how you will manage your diabetes. Your plan should include foot care. A foot doctor, also called a podiatrist, and other specialists may be part of your health care team.
You may have foot problems, but feel no pain in your feet. Checking your feet each day will help you spot problems early before they get worse. A good way to remember is to check your feet each evening when you take off your shoes. Also check between your toes. If you have trouble bending over to see your feet, try using a mirror to see them, or ask someone else to look at your feet.
If you have certain foot problems that make it more likely you will develop a sore on your foot, your doctor may recommend taking the temperature of the skin on different parts of your feet. Wash your feet with soap in warm, not hot, water. Test the water to make sure it is not too hot. Do not soak your feet because your skin will get too dry. After washing and drying your feet, put talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes.
Skin between the toes tends to stay moist. Powder will keep the skin dry to help prevent an infection. Thick patches of skin called corns or calluses can grow on the feet. If you have corns or calluses, talk with your foot doctor about the best way to care for these foot problems.
If you have nerve damage, these patches can become ulcers. If your doctor tells you to, use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses after bathing or showering. A pumice stone is a type of rock used to smooth the skin. Rub gently, only in one direction, to avoid tearing the skin. To keep your skin smooth and soft, rub a thin coat of lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not put lotion or cream between your toes because moistness might cause an infection.
Trim your toenails, when needed, after you wash and dry your feet. Using toenail clippers, trim your toenails straight across. Do not cut into the corners of your toenail. Gently smooth each nail with an emery board or nonsharp nail file. Trimming this way helps prevent cutting your skin and keeps the nails from growing into your skin.
If you want to get a pedicure at a salon, you should bring your own nail tools to prevent getting an infection. You can ask your health care provider what other steps you can take at the salon to prevent infection. Wear shoes and socks at all times. Do not walk barefoot or in just socks — even when you are indoors. You could step on something and hurt your feet. You may not feel any pain and may not know that you hurt yourself.
Check the inside of your shoes before putting them on, to make sure the lining is smooth and free of pebbles or other objects. Make sure you wear socks, stockings, or nylons with your shoes to keep from getting blisters and sores. Choose clean, lightly padded socks that fit well. Socks with no seams are best.
Wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Here are some tips for finding the right type of shoes:. When breaking in new shoes, only wear them for a few hours at first and then check your feet for areas of soreness. Medicare Part B insurance and other health insurance programs may help pay for these special shoes or inserts. Ask your insurance plan if it covers your special shoes or inserts.
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