With the great weather in the East Valley, people often feel the urge to go barefoot. People with diabetes have to be particularly careful about this, especially during the hot summer months.

“It is important for diabetics to pay special attention to their feet, because of their vulnerability to injury,” said Dr. Kimberly Leach of the Arizona Institute of Footcare Physicians. It is imperative to protect feet at all times, and diabetes sufferers should stay not walk barefoot, even inside. Dr. Leach said, “It is also important to stay away from wearing sandals because dirt or pebbles can easily get inside the sandal and cause irritation and injury.”

Wear protective footwear around swimming pools. The pavement surrounding pools can become extremely hot and can burn the soles of the feet. It is also important to check water temperature, especially in a hot tub, before going in. The water should be no warmer than 85 to 90 degrees. Leach also stated, “Many people with diabetes have a loss of feeling in their feet and could possibly suffer a burn and not even realize it, which could lead to even more problems.”

Another source of injury can come from improper care of nails. Because toenails grow faster in hot weather, trim them more frequently and keep them short to help avoid ingrown nails. It is best to file nails straight across rather than cut them. If an ingrown nail does develop, people with diabetes should not attempt to remove it themselves. A minor cut can rapidly lead to a serious infection.

Diabetes can lead to foot problems in two ways: poor circulation and loss of feeling resulting from damaged nerves. This diminished feeling in the feet makes it difficult to detect problems like ulcers, gangrene, and even amputation. Through day-to-day footcare and regular visits to a podiatrist, serious foot problems that plague people with diabetes can be minimized and, even more importantly, avoided.