Diabetes: Caring for Your Body

Woman sitting on edge of bed looking at sole of foot with mirror.

When you have diabetes, your body needs special care. This care helps you stay healthy and prevent complications. Exercise and healthy eating are a part of this. You can also protect yourself by taking special care of your feet, skin, and teeth.

Caring for your feet

Follow these tips to help keep your feet healthy:

  • Check your feet every day for redness, blisters, cracks, dry skin, or numbness. Use a mirror to inspect the bottoms of your feet, if needed. Or, ask for help.

  • Wash your feet in warm (not hot) water. Don’t soak them.

  • Use an emery board to keep your toenails even with the ends of your toes. File away sharp edges. A podiatrist (foot doctor) may need to cut your toenails for you.

  • Keep your skin soft and smooth by placing a thin layer of skin lotion on the tops and bottoms of your feet. Do not put lotion in between your toes.

  • Always wear shoes or slippers, even inside your home. Make sure that shoes are properly fitted. Change your socks daily.

  • Call your healthcare provider right away if your feet are numb or painful, or if a cut or sore doesn’t heal within a few days.

Preventing skin infections

To prevent skin infections, bathe every day. Dry yourself well, especially between your toes. Wash any cuts with warm, soapy water and cover with a sterile bandage. Call your healthcare provider if a cut or sore doesn't heal in a few days, feels warm, itches, or has a bad odor.

Caring for your teeth

Follow these guidelines for healthy teeth:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily.

  • Floss your teeth daily.

  • See your dentist at least twice yearly.

If you smoke, quit

Smoking is dangerous for everyone, especially people with diabetes. It can harm the blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, and heart. It raises blood pressure. Smoking can also slow healing, so infections are more likely. Ask your healthcare provider about programs to help you stop smoking.