How to Perform a Diabetic Foot Self-Examination

Although we provide comprehensive diabetic foot care services—including wound care—the truth is that if you want to have healthy feet and prevent complications that could lead to severe wounds and even amputations, the most important caregiver and member of your diabetes foot care team is … you!

As much as we’d like to, we can’t see you every day, which means it’s up to you to identify any potential problems as early as possible. Unfortunately, simply relying on whether or not you feel any pain or discomfort may not be enough, especially if you’ve lost some sensation in your lower limbs due to neuropathy. That’s why you need to make a diabetic foot self-examination part of your daily routine. Here’s how:

  • Sit in a well-lit area, in a position that allows you to comfortably view your entire foot, including the sole and between the toes. If you need a little extra help, you can use a mirror or enlist the help of a loved one or caregiver.
  • Use your eyes to scan, and hands to feel, for any skin irregularities. Check for bumps, corns, calluses, cuts, dry or cracked skin, blisters, puffiness, redness, temperature changes—anything out of the ordinary. Bumps and lumps could be signs of injuries to muscles, ligaments, or bones.
  • Use your fingers to spread your toes apart and check between them. Test blood flow to the toes by gently squeezing them and seeing how long it takes the color to return to normal. Discoloration that lasts longer than five seconds could indicate circulatory problems.
  • Check your toenails. If they’re dull, flaky, discolored, or deformed, it typically indicates a fungal infection. If you see redness and swelling along the edge of a toe, it may be ingrown.
  • Keep a journal (or even take pictures on your mobile phone) to record the results of your examination. If you notice new problems developing, or old problems lingering or worsening, it’s a good sign you need to give us a call.

A careful diabetic foot self-exam should only take 3-5 minutes of your time, and making it a part of your daily routine could make all the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major wound.

If you notice a problem during your self-exam, or it’s simply time to return for your annual diabetic foot checkup, please contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists today at (480) 963-9000.

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