People living with diabetes must be extremely careful when exposing their feet to any direct heat sources, including fireplaces, space heaters, heating pads, electric blankets, and hot water. Patients with diabetic neuropathy (numbness in the feet and toes) may not sense when the heat is too high, resulting in second- or even third-degree burns.
While it may be better for diabetes patients to warm themselves in the winter by turning up the thermostat, this can also cause complications. Central heating systems can pull moisture from the skin and cause it to dry out or crack, opening the patient up to infection.
How to Safely Warm Diabetic Feet
There are many ways to have warm and cozy feet safely, starting with washing and drying the foot thoroughly. Patients should moisturize their feet daily, taking care not to let lotion build up between their toes. This is also a good opportunity to visually inspect the feet for cracked skin, redness, or potential infection.
Once you have made sure that your feet are clean, dry, and moisturized, you can safely warm them up with:
- Diabetic socks. These socks are made without tight elastic bands at the top for maximum comfort, and come in a variety of warmth and cushioning levels. Patients who sleep in socks may select a pair with rubberized grip on the soles in case they need to get out of bed in the middle of the night.
- Fleece blankets. While electric blankets may be dangerous for patients with diabetes, non-electric blankets are available in a wide variety of materials. Fleece blankets hold in maximum heat, and some have a foot-pocket specifically to keep toes warm.
- Slippers. A pair of well-fitting, non-slip slippers with a thick rubber sole are a good way to keep feet warm year-round.
If you need help managing the foot complications of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the foot and ankle specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry are here to help. Call our office today at (301) 515-3338 or fill out our contact form to get started.