With temperatures in the single digits in many parts of the US right now, keeping your feet warm can be difficult. For most people, cold toes and feet are nothing more than just that and can easily be remedied. But for anyone with diabetes, cold toes and feet can be dangerous and lead to much more severe problems. In addition, common foot warming techniques are not appropriate for diabetics, especially those with neuropathy. Warming your feet in front of the fire or in a bowl of warm water, for example, can lead to burns if there is any neuropathy. So what is a diabetic to do? The last thing you want is frost bite or poor circulation as a result of frozen toes! The key thing is to find ways to warm your feet in which you can safely control the temperature your feet are exposed to. If you want to warm them in a bowl of warm water, always test the water with a thermometer or your elbow first. But don't soak them for too long as this can cause dryness and cracks. Never warm them in front of a fire or radiator. Instead, you can rub a light moisturizer on your feet, massaging them and increasing the circulation which will help to warm them. Wear warm thick socks, preferably wool which insulates well and wicks away any moisture. Be sure to choose socks that are loose fitting and without tight elastic around your ankles or calves and socks without seams to avoid blisters. If you are going outside, a good pair of winter boots, preferably lined, are a good choice. And always wear socks with them. If your feet get wet from ice and snow, remove your wet socks and shoes immediately, dry your feet gently but thoroughly and put on a pair of dry socks and shoes or boots.
Check your feet daily, especially after being outside and exposed to the cold, paying particular attention to any changes in color and shape, cuts, red spots, swelling and infected toenails. If you notice anything unusual, contact your doctor immediately. And invest in a good pair of warm slippers to wear around the house. They will both warm your feet and make walking more comfortable.
It's easy to pack on a few pounds during the winter months when exercise and activity is more difficult, but this can wreak havoc with your glucose levels and of course put more weight on your feet. So, plan ahead. Schedule an indoor exercise class, swimming, cycling or yoga and be sure to wear protective athletic shoes that fit well and provide good support.
Take care of yourself during the cold months so that you are healthy and in good shape, ready to embrace and enjoy the warmer weather when it arrives!