Diabetes causes poor circulation and the loss of sensation, particularly in the feet. Just a routine sore or blister can spiral into a festering ulcer if left untreated! Every year, 5,700 patients are seen in U.S. hospitals for diabetic foot injuries and diabetic foot infections. There are approximately 68,000 diabetes-related foot amputations performed annually.*
It can be hard to imagine how such a tragedy could occur, but feet tend to be one of those body parts that are “out of sight, out of mind.” Contributing factors to declining foot health include: excess moisture, blisters, cuts, ingrown toenails, bacterial infections, tissue loss, ulcers, poor blood pressure, and limited access to UV light therapy.
As you may know, UV lights have been routinely used to sterilize and disinfect medical equipment in hospitals for decades. Now UV lights are seen as a helpful tool in at-home diabetes care. The book Healthy Feet for People with Diabetes recommends using a patented UV light sterilization device daily to protect the feet from athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, chronic odor, festering sores, and exposure to dangerous pathogens.
We’re excited to share this effective new tool in diabetes foot care because it would be very easy for diabetic patients to put the UV wand in their shoes to sanitize them. The Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association published a July/August 2012 article stating that our UV light shoe sanitizer was just as effective as physically removing bacteria and fungus with a scalpel – but a lot easier!
Here are five other doctor-recommended approaches to diabetic foot care to consider:
- Custom Footwear: The International Diabetes Federation found that most foot ulcers and amputations can be prevented by wearing shoes that do not create pressure spots or rub the feet. Unsuitable footwear is blamed for 60 to 80 percent of diabetic foot injuries. Many of the people who inquire about SteriShoe have already been fitted for custom orthotics. They tell us that it’s much more enjoyable to take their dogs for walks and take their Sunday shopping trips, without fear of crippling pain. So we feel this is a good complement to clean, sterilized shoes. You’ll just want to make sure that the shoes you buy are very breathable, so dampness does not occur.
- Pros: Helps prevent foot soreness; increases arch support; reduces likelihood of bunions and blisters
- Cons: Can cost up to $300/pair; interferes with the shoe’s ability to “breathe,” causing added moisture
- Compliance: Research published in the Diabetes Care journal found that diabetic patients who were prescribed custom footwear were not wearing their special shoes for a third of the steps taken each day. “It just feels natural to be barefoot in the house,” many patients tell our advisory board doctors. They also hear, “What’s so bad about slippers?” Unfortunately, lack of compliance — whether it’s eating healthy or wearing custom footwear indoors, as well as outdoors — is a big problem reported by researchers these days.
- Pros: Shows patients noticeable results when advice is followed to the letter
- Cons: Does not feel natural or comfortable to wear shoes indoors every minute of the day
- High Performance Socks: “Socks are often an afterthought for patients with diabetes, but they shouldn’t be,” says the Lower Extremity Review. These days, high-performance support socks work to keep the foot drier, better cushioned and less apt to rub. We like socks that contain Lycra, DryWeave or CoolMax. Ideally, the sock will also contain extra padding and areas of elastic compression for maximum diabetic foot support.
- Pros: Adds comfort and cushion that reduces the risk of blistering, ulceration and skin abrasions
- Cons: Does not work alone to protect the feet; A good pair costs $20 or more; No one preferred brand
- Checking Decreased Circulation: Every day, diabetes patients should look at their feet for signs of peripheral vascular disease, such as: reddish or bluish appearance, loss of hair on the toes, thin skin, non-healing wounds, or unusually thick toenails. According to Diabetes Health magazine, PVD doubles the risk for a foot infection and also increases the severity of any infections that occur. Medical doctors or podiatrists can test circulation by feeling pulses in the feet, taking Doppler tests, or comparing blood pressure in the arms and feet.
- Pros: Helps diabetics note the progress of their disease; Feet are more treatable with early detection
- Cons: Can be difficult for the untrained eye to detect changes; Testing requires an office visit/copay
- Apply anti-fungal powders to socks daily. Nearly 18 percent of gangrene and 10 percent of foot ulcer cases can be attributed to onychomycosis, a type of contagious fungal nail infection, says Diabetes Digest. Many people have trouble trimming their thick nails, which could cause the surrounding skin to crack and become infected. In addition to keeping the nails trimmed and shaped, it can be helpful to apply anti-fungal powder to your socks every day to ensure that a minor skin abrasion does not become an infected ulcer.
- Pros: Keeps the feet soft and dry, which makes the environment less conducive to bacterial growth
- Cons: Powder is messy and can get onto clothing
While all these methods make up a comprehensive diabetic foot care regimen, we’re most excited about the way UV light is revolutionizing diabetic foot care and making it easier for them to comply with their doctors’ wishes. Not only is it very inexpensive, but it’s also a very effective way to disinfect shoes at home – killing off harmful bacteria and removing excess moisture. Of all the brands out there, SteriShoe® is the only one with the American Podiatric Medical “Seal of Acceptance.”
Hopefully this article has helped you, as it has helped the countless customers we’ve met. We know it may seem strange to pamper yourself at first, but once you discovered a world of cushy socks, comfy orthotics and sanitized shoes, you’ll wonder why you didn’t indulge sooner! We invite you to contact us if you have any questions about diabetic foot care or the SteriShoe ultraviolet shoe sanitizer by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 1-866-686-Shoe (7463).