Quitting smoking is one of the many ways to reduce the risk of diabetic foot ulcers.

People who suffer from diabetes must take special care of their feet, as they are at a higher risk of infection and necrosis that can lead to amputation. In fact, the International Diabetes Federation reported that people with diabetes may be as much as 25 times more likely to require amputation than those without the metabolic condition. The increased prevalence of infection among diabetics is due to a lack of sensitivity in the lower extremities caused by reduced blood flow and nerve damage. This can make it difficult for diabetics to notice when they have a sore or an infection that needs special care.

Recognizing when you have a sore or infection is essential to knowing when you require specialized diabetic foot ulcer care. However, the best way to care for your feet is to prevent these wounds in the first place, such as with these protective measure:

Check your feet daily: Since people with diabetes may be less aware of pain in their feet due to decreased sensitivity, it’s important to inspect one’s feet on a regular basis. Keep an eye open for cuts, cracks, blisters and other signs of the beginning of a wound. Use a mirror if you’re having trouble seeing the bottoms of your feet, or ask for help from a friend or family member.

Keep your feet clean: Wash your feet everyday with mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry them gently with a towel, being sure to get between the toes. You may want to finish off with moisturizer on the tops and bottoms of feet (to reduce the risk of blistering) and talcum powder between the toes.

Choose the right shoes: Your footwear should be tight enough to keep the fabric from rubbing against the skin and causing diabetic foot ulcers, but loose enough to be comfortable and not crowd the toes. In the case that one foot is bigger than the other, you should purchase shoes in the larger size. You might also wear orthopedic shoes custom made to fit the size, shape and contours of your feet – you can request a prescription for these shoes from your clinician.

Don’t smoke: Smoking greatly reduces circulation, which can exacerbate your blood flow issues and sensation problems in your feet. Speak to your clinician if you need help quitting.

Get regular check-ups: People with diabetes should have a foot examination at least once per year, according to the Mayo Clinic. During these appointments, a podiatrist or other clinician can inspect your feet for circulation issues, early signs of nerve damage and other foot problems that could potentially lead to infection and amputation.

If you do experience a sore on your foot, consult with your clinician to determine the right wound care plan for you. He or she may determine that you require specialty footwear, dressings or other products to help aid in speedy recovery.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.