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 a number of complex issues that make the feet more susceptible to damage and infection.
Impaired circulation and nerve damage issues are the biggest culprits. Without adequate blood flow, the skin on diabetic feet is typically dry, frail, prone to infection, and slow to heal—increasing the risk of ulcers and infection. This risk is further increased because chronically high blood sugar also can cause nerve damage, leaving many diabetics with a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy causes tingling and numbness, which means a diabetic may not even notice a rash or sore until it has ulcerated.
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 pedicure treatment using diabetic-safe products and educated technicians. How? Here are six do’s and don’ts for properly pedicuring diabetic feet.
1. DO ask every client if they’re a diabetic
A client consultation is important before any service, but the stakes are higher for a diabetic client. Don’t rely on your client to tell you they’re diabetic…ask them! Also, observe the feet for any symptoms potentially related to diabetes. These include dry, parchment paper-type skin; dead skin build-up around the nail folds; callus buildup on pressure points, and skin discoloration (usually purple or blue) on the lower leg and foot. Diabetic or not, if you see these symptoms, always proceed with caution. And, of course, never service a client who has open cuts, sores or active infections.
2. DON’T soak the feet for more than five minutes
Extended soaking opens small cracks in the skin, a point of entry for germs. It also strips the feet of natural oil, exacerbating dry skin issues. Limit soak time to 3-5 minutes in tepid (not hot!) water and use a gentle foot soak product. 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. As an alternative, instead of a foot bath, use the Footlogix Cleansing Wipes to cleanse the feet prior to a service. These wipes are safe and gentle with no alcohol or added fragrance or scents. Individually packaged, they are a convenient and hygienic product for mobile techs who service diabetic clients, or seniors’ homes.
3. DO let the products do the work
Weak, compromised skin can tear and cut easily. For this reason, avoid razors, blades and rasps and use diabetic-safe products formulated to safely soften calluses. The Footlogix Callus Softener effectively reduces calluses on the heels and balls of the feet, eliminating the need to aggressively scrub or cut the skin. Spray the softener liberally and allow it to soak for three to five minutes, then follow with the Footlogix Stainless Steel Pedicure File. The rehydrating formula is so gentle; no rinsing is required.
4. DON’T cut or push back the cuticle
For a diabetic, a nick or cut can be serious business. Never cut the cuticle. Not only do you risk cutting the living tissue surrounding the nail, the cuticle serves as a barrier protecting the nail matrix from pathogenic organisms which can cause infections. The new Footlogix Cuticle Softener has a non-aggressive, diabetic-safe formula which naturally softens cuticles without stripping the surrounding skin of essential moisture.
5. DO use moisturizing products with urea and anti-microbial agents
Moisturizing is extremely important for protecting dry, rough and flaky diabetic feet from problematic skin issues. But trapped moisture can also increase the chances of a fungal infection—a condition slow-to-heal diabetics must avoid. Look for hydrating products that are absorbed into the skin quickly and contain urea, which locks in moisture, and anti-microbial or anti-fungal agents to stop the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. The Footlogix Very Dry Skin Formula ideal is for diabetics and seniors as well as people with atopic dermatitis and sensitive skin. Rough Skin Formula has an effective anti-fungal agent to treat dry, scratchy skin due to fungal infections.
6. DON’T let the client leave without discussing maintenance
For the diabetic client, keeping the skin on the feet moisturized and healthy is more than a “cosmetic” goal. Consistent home care not only protects the feet from infection, it 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. Be sure to educate your client on the importance of home maintenance and recommend a routine and Footlogix home care products which can be safely followed and used at home.