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Kidney disease is a lifelong condition which may cause foot problems. Some of these problems can occur because the nerves and blood vessels are damaged.

This can affect:
- the circulation in your feet (ischaemia); and
- the feeling in your feet (peripheral neuropathy).

These changes can be very gradual and you may not notice them. This is why it is very important that you check your feet regularly, especially when on holiday as you may be more active than usual.

Foot ulcers are breaks in the skin that struggle to heal. The development of foot ulcers in people with kidney disease may lead to serious complications and they are linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and amputations of the foot or leg.

Controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure, quitting smoking, increasing cardiovascular exercise, controlling weight and managing any other conditions you may have (such as diabetes) helps to reduce the risk of these life- and limb-threatening problems. This leaflet contains advice to help you to care for your feet yourself while enjoying your holiday.

Advice on keeping your feet healthy

On the journey

Long journeys can make your feet swell. Try to walk about every half hour if possible – even a short distance will help. This will keep the circulation moving and keep swelling down. Remember your feet may swell in heat, so make sure your shoes are not too tight.

Check your feet every day

You should check your feet at least once a day for any blisters, breaks in the skin, pain or any signs of infection such as swelling, heat or redness, just as you would at home.

If you discover a small blister or a cut, graze or any break in the skin of your feet, cover them with a sterile dressing. Do not burst blisters. Seek medical help.

Wash your feet every day

Wash your feet every day in warm water and with a mild soap. Rinse them thoroughly and dry them carefully, especially between the toes. Do not soak your feet as this can damage your skin.

Moisturise your feet every day

If your skin is dry, apply a moisturising cream every day, avoiding the areas between your toes. You may need to apply extra moisturising cream if your skin gets very dry in hot or cold weather.

Toenails

Carry on cutting your toenails as your podiatrist has advised you to.

Avoid walking barefoot

Always wear footwear, even on the beach. The sand can become very warm and you may burn your feet without realising. If you go into the sea, wear some sort of footwear such as plastic shoes to protect your feet.
Avoid wearing ‘flip-flop’ type footwear as this may cause blisters between your toes.

Prescription shoes

If you have been supplied with prescribed shoes, do not wear any other shoes during your holiday (except when you are in the sea).
Minor cuts and blisters
Take a small first-aid kit containing sterile gauze dressings and Micropore tape. If you get a small blister, cut or graze, use diluted antiseptic on a gauze swab to clean the wound and tape on a dry sterile gauze dressing. Do not use cotton wool.

Medications and prescriptions

Make sure you pack medications you take regularly, including any antibiotics, dressings, insoles and footwear that have been prescribed and issued to you.

Avoid high and low temperatures

Protect your feet from sunburn with a high-factor sun-protection cream (SPF factor 30 or above) or keep them covered. Do not use dark-coloured materials to protect your feet as they absorb heat and you could burn your feet.
If you have any concerns or discover any problems with your feet, contact your podiatry clinic or GP for advice immediately.

If you discover any more problems, or if you are concerned about the treatment of your foot ulcer, contact your Multi-Disciplinary Foot Care Service, local Podiatry Department or GP for advice immediately.

Developed by the London Foot Care Strategic Clinical Network and the London Renal Strategic Clinical Network

More foot care information at the links below

Charcot Feet

Foot Ulcers

Footwear

The National Kidney Federation cannot accept any responsibility for information provided. The above is for guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their own doctor.