People with diabetes must take special care of their feet to avoid injury.

Each year, thousands of Americans are forced to deal with the effects of diabetic foot ulcers. These injuries not only impact your personal health and mobility, but they’re costly to treat as well. In fact, a March 2014 reported in the journal Diabetes Care found that treatments for these ulcers cost the U.S. upwards of $13 billion per year.

Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid these costly treatment regimens: By taking care of your feet, you can sometimes prevent ulcers from developing in the first place. Below are four handy tips for ensuring the healthiest feet possible:

1. Choose the Right Footwear

By now, most people know the importance of proper footwear in preventing ulcers. You want a pair that fits snugly around the ankles without exerting too much pressure. But as the American Podiatric Medical Association pointed out, it’s not enough just to have one pair of shoes. If you play sports, for instance, you need shoes that are geared toward this activity and its unique physical demands. Same goes for running, formal wear, and even winter boots. The better prepared you are for each situation, the less likely ulcers are to develop.

2. Care for Your Toenails

Similar to shoes, it’s not enough to just wash your feet regularly. You also need to make sure your toenails are groomed and maintained with some frequency. If these nails get too long, they can damage your feet, which can eventually lead to painful ulcers. Also, if you’re prone to ulcers, avoid covering your toenails with polish. Though attractive, this polish can hide cracks or signs of fungus, and if left untreated these can lead to serious health concerns, the least of which might be foot ulcers.

3. Use Plenty of Moisturizer

Proper moisturizing doesn’t just help make your skin look better; it can also help protect it. Otherwise, skin that’s fragile or cracks easily can become worn or injured, and that’s the perfect condition for ulcer formation. According to Live Simply, there are several effective brands of moisturizing lotions. One of the most popular options is coconut oil, which has several different applications and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. Or, you can try a kombucha blend, which also features all-natural ingredients.

4. Get Your Feet Examined Often

Emma Supple is a foot care specialist out of the U.K. Speaking with the National Health Service, she said older people in general, those over the age of 60, should see a podiatrist with some frequency. “Physically, it gets more difficult for us to get to our feet, and failing eyesight doesn’t help,” she said. “Go to see a professional for a foot MOT (exam) every six months and never put up with foot pain as if it is normal. Your feet shouldn’t hurt.”

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