Proper Foot Care
Because PAD causes reduced blood flow in the legs, women with PAD are at risk for skin problems and slow or non-healing sores on the legs and feet. These problems are especially common in women with PAD who also have diabetes. In severe cases, foot or leg wounds can become infected and eventually require amputation. Therefore, it is extremely important for women with PAD to practice proper skin and foot care. Some tips:
- Check your legs and feet every day, including the tops, bottom, and sides of your feet and the backs of your legs. Use a mirror or ask a family member for help checking hard-to-see areas. Look for:
- Cuts or scrapes
- Sores or open wounds
- Redness or swelling
- Tender or painful areas
- Coolness, warmth, or other skin changes
- Corns, calluses, bunions, or blisters
- Ingrown or infected toenails
- Itching, numbness, or tingling
- Call your doctor right away if you notice any leg or foot problems, or have any other symptoms of PAD. Do not try to treat them yourself.
- Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges. If you have thick or very hard toenails, you may need your healthcare provider to trim them for you.
- Wash your feet daily with warm (not hot) water and mild soap and dry them thoroughly before getting dressed. Keep your legs and feet well moisturized, but do not use moisturizer between the toes because this can increase the risk of a fungal infection (athlete's foot).
- Always wear comfortable shoes and thick socks that fit well. Avoid shoes or socks that rub your feet, or are tight enough to leave marks on your skin when you take them off. When you get new shoes, break them in gradually, and do not wear them all day.
- Make sure your healthcare provider checks your feet at every office visit. If you have diabetes, you should have a foot exam at least once a year, or more often if you already have foot problems.