Considerations for a Diabetic Pedicure

15 November, 2023

Caring for the feet is an important priority for the client with Type 2 Diabetes, but unfortunately, a diabetic shouldn’t walk into just any salon and get any pedicure. Why? because diabetics suffer from many complex issues that make the feet more susceptible to damage and infection.
Few medical conditions are as endemic as diabetes.  With over 540 million adults in the world living with diabetes that means over 10% of the world population is living with this condition.  
This November as we recognize National Diabetes Month, it is a time to remind ourselves of the many challenges associated with this chronic condition and how it can affect the care and concern we bring to our services. 

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes, more formally referred to as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic metabolic condition that is associated with elevated blood sugar. This chronic elevation of blood sugar is associated with impaired production of or response to insulin.
In some people the cause of insufficient insulin is due to the pancreas not producing insulin whereas in others insulin properly produced however the cells do not respond to it.
There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1 (body’s inability to make insulin aka juvenile onset), Type 2 (gradual onset of insulin resistance aka adult onset) and Gestational (a temporary impaired insulin response during pregnancy).  

Symptoms of Diabetes

Regardless of the type of diabetes the symptoms are very similar and include excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and excessive hunger. As the disease progresses the systemic effects of elevated blood sugar start to take effect.

Chronic elevation of blood sugar can lead to oxidation of the blood sugar creating free radicals referred to as advanced glycation end bodies (AGEs) which create inflammation and stickiness to collagen fibers and blood vessels.  
Overtime this collagen inflammation affects the small blood vessels that supply the eyes, kidneys and peripheral nerves. Of these, the presence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common and will affect 1 in 4 diabetics.

Diabetic Neuropathy Concerns

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) presents as tingling, numbness or a burning sensation to the feet and hands. Starting at the tips of the toes and working its way up the foot, DPN always presents in a “stocking glove pattern” which means it is the same on both feet and works its way up the foot gradually and symmetrically.
Any numbness of the feet can affect the ability to feel temperature, pain or other common protective sensations. This means that a cut or injury to the feet in a diabetic with neuropathy is of great concern.  
Infections, slowed healing rates and eventual amputation risk are the greatest concerns with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. These risks are why the care that is provided to a diabetic during their pedicure service is very important. 

Diabetic Pedicure Services

Despite these risks, diabetics can (and should) get regular pedicures to maintain foot health and prevent future skin issues. The key is providing the right service using diabetic-safe products. How? Below are a few tips to remember when approaching your diabetic client:
Below are a few tips to remember when approaching your diabetic client:

  1.  Always start the pedicure with a complete skin analysis to look for any breaks in the skin or infections. Conducting a client consultation is important before any service, especially if they are diabetic. Ask the question and observe the feet.

  2.  Avoid soaking the feet for too long and use tepid water only. Limit soak time to 3-5 minutes in tepid (not hot) water and use a gentle foot soak product.

  3.  Dry the feet well, especially in between the toes.

  4.  Choose products that are pH balanced to protect the skin’s natural barrier.The Footlogix Foot Soak is a pH-balanced formula that gently cleanses, hydrates softens and prepares the skin for a pedicure. The Foot Soak is anti-microbial and urea-infused, and does not dehydrate the skin while soaking.

  5. Trim the nails carefully and keep them square

  6.  Avoid pushing the cuticles back or trimming the cuticles

  7.  Use urea-based products such as the Footlogix Very Dry Skin Formula. It is ideal for diabetics and seniors, as well as people with atopic dermatitis and sensitive skin.  Moisturizing is extremely important for protecting dry, rough and flaky diabetic feet from problematic skin issues.

  8.  Do not let the client leave without discussing homecare. Consistent home care not only protects the feet from infection, but also allows the client to monitor significant changes, such as a toenail or skin changes, or new fungal infections, which can lead to greater complications if not addressed immediately.

Providing a unique experience to a diabetic can build confidence in your services and increase your referral base. Bringing an in-depth understanding of this chronic condition and the risks associated is the first step.