A Pharmacist's Guide to OTC Therapy: Diabetic Foot Care Products

OCTOBER 01, 2005
Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh

Routine foot care is an essential tool in preventing various complications associated with diabetes, such as foot ulcers and infections, which, if left untreated, can lead to amputation. It is imperative that diabetics be aware of the importance of preventive foot care, how to recognize potential problems, and when to seek medical treatment.

Various risk factors can increase a patient's probability of developing foot problems. These factors can include improperly fitting footwear, a history of peripheral neuropathy, trauma to the foot, poor circulation, and infections such as athlete's foot or ingrown toenails.

Many nonprescription products are available for patients with diabetes to utilize in their routine foot care practices (Table). During counseling, pharmacists should make their patients aware of the circumstances under which self-treatment is not advisable and professional medical care is necessary.

Examples of these conditions are as follows:

  • An open sore that shows slow or no signs of healing
  • Any itching or tingling sensations in the feet
  • Ingrown toenails or fungal infection of the toenails
  • Bleeding corns, calluses, or blisters
  • Any changes in appearance of skin (such as redness or cyanosis)
  • Pain in the legs or feet

Pharmacists should urge patients to contact their physician immediately if they experience any of these signs in order to prevent further complications.

Preventive Tips for Diabetic Patients

  • Maintain good glycemic control
  • Routinely examine feet for any changes
  • Wash and dry feet daily
  • Trim toenails routinely if possible
  • Choose properly fitting footwear
  • Schedule periodic visits with a physician for foot examinations
  • Immediately report any injuries or abnormalities to a physician

Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in the northern Virginia area.

For a list of references, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: References Department, Attn. A. Stahl, Pharmacy Times, 241 Forsgate Drive, Jamesburg, NJ 08831; or send an e-mail request to: astahl@ascendmedia.com.



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