Ah, the pitter patter of small feet. For parents, this is often a happy sound. But when your child has diabetes, it can also serve as a reminder to check their feet and make sure they are healthy.
Diabetes can lead to decreased blood flow and may cause dry, cracked skin. The good news is that you can prevent major foot problems by managing your child’s diabetes and caring for their feet daily. While your child is young, it is important to help them develop good foot-care habits that will keep their feet healthy throughout their life.
Follow these steps for basic foot care:
- Trim toenails straight across. File them as needed, and do not cut them too short (in order to prevent ingrown nails). If you take your child for a professional pedicure, make sure the staff knows your child has diabetes and share these foot-care tips with them.
- Wash feet daily. When your child plays outside or sweats, it is wise to wash them more often.
- Avoid excessive heat. Never place your child’s feet in water that is too hot. Before bathing, check the temperature to make sure it is just right. Do not allow your child to use electric blankets or heating pads.
- Pat feet dry. After bathing or showering, gently pat your child’s feet dry. Do not rub them.
- Moisturize the skin. To avoid dry, cracked skin, moisturize your child’s feet daily (especially after bathing) with an alcohol-free lotion. Gently apply the lotion to the tops and bottoms of the feet, but not in between the toes.
- Check feet daily. Inspect your child’s feet to look for any cuts or blisters.
Ways to ensure your child’s foot safety
- Do not self-treat corns, calluses or warts.
- Have the doctor check your child’s feet during each visit. Be sure to take off your child’s shoes and socks so that their feet are not missed during the appointment.
- Purchase good socks. Have your child wear soft cotton, synthetic-blend or wool socks – without holes in them.
- Buy well-fitting shoes. Your child should wear closed-toe footwear that fits them properly. Their shoes should cover and protect their feet whether they are at school, home or outdoors – even when at the beach or swimming pool (although swim clogs can be worn). Do not let your child go barefoot.
- Check footwear before putting it on. Feel inside their shoes and boots for objects before placing them on your child’s feet.
- Be wary of public places. To avoid plantar warts and fungal growth, make sure your child wears footwear in public showers. For example, they can wear flip-flops in the locker room at school.
When to call the doctor
Call your child’s primary care doctor immediately if your child has any of the following.
- Signs of infection. These may include redness, drainage or other changes in your child’s feet.
- Odd feelings in the feet. These sensations could be pain, tingling or a burning feeling.
- Indications of problems. Foot sores, ulcers, blisters, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses or warts are all signs of extra wear and tear on your child’s feet. These should be addressed by a doctor who can appropriately treat your child’s foot problem and help prevent future difficulties.
By properly managing your child’s diabetes and demonstrating the right way of performing self-care, you can teach them to stand on their own 2 feet.
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.