Diabetics who develop foot infections have a 154-fold higher risk of losing the affected foot. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, 86 000 amputations are performed annually in the United States as a direct result of diabetes and half of those who have a foot or leg amputated will lose the other within five years.
Taking care of one’s feet can be easy. However, the job becomes quite difficult when one’s vision is impaired. Vision impairment makes it difficult to detect the early signs of foot problems. So how does one do foot care while coping with diminished vision?
- Hands-on foot care. After washing and drying the feet, lift one foot to a comfortable resting position and use the balls of your fingertips and thumb to feel the entire surface. Fingertips are especially sensitive to changes in texture. Through hands-on foot care, one can find any breaks in the skin, new corns, calluses, blisters, swollen areas, small objects imbedded in the foot or anything that was not there the day before.
- Back hand check. Run the back of the hand, which is especially sensitive to temperature, over as much of the surface of each foot. An unusually cool spot may indicate impaired circulation. An unusually warm area which may appear as a reddish spot, is generally the result of inflammation and often indicates the presence of infection.
- Use the sense of smell. While feet often do not have a particularly pleasant smell, an unusually bad foot odour can be a sign of a fungal infection. Often, a suddenly offensive odour will be the first indication of an infection.
Successful non-visual foot inspection depends on the sensitivity of the hands. In cases where a diabetic patient’s hands are numb, the patient should get the help of a sighted family member or friend.
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