Diabetic Foot Care
Healthy feet are essential for overall good health. For people with diabetes, taking care of their feet is especially vital.
More than 60 percent of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations worldwide are related to complications from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. These amputations are preventable with careful monitoring and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist.
Diabetes and Your Feet
Longstanding high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the foot. This poor circulation can weaken the skin, contribute to the formation of ulcers, and impair wound healing. Some bacteria and fungi thrive on high levels of sugar in the bloodstream , and bacterial and fungal infections can breakdown the sin and complicate ulcers.
More serious complications include deep skin and bone infections. Gangrene (death and decay of tissue) is a very serious complication tat may include infection; widespread gangrene may require foot amputation's.
Approximately 5% of those with diabetes eventually require amputation of a toe or foot.
This tragic consequence can be prevented in most patients by managing blood sugar levels a daily foot care.
Elevated blood glucose levels over time can damage the nerves of the foot, decreasing a person's ability to notice pain and pressure. Without these sensations, it is easy to develop callused pressure spots and accidently injure the skin, soft tissue, bone and joints. Over time, bone and joint damage can dramatically alter the shape of the foot. nerve damage, also called neuropathy, can also weaken certain foot muscles, further contributing to foot deformities.
While open sores on the foot— called ulcers—are the most common diabetes-related foot problem, serious conditions such as neuropathy, skin changes, calluses, poor circulation, and infection are also prevalent.
The nerve damage that diabetes causes may mean a person with an ulcer or injury may be unaware of it until it becomes infected. Infection can lead to partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg.
Diabetes Warning Signs:
Skin color changes
Swelling of the foot or ankle
Numbness or tingling in the feet or toes
Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
Ingrown and fungal toenails
Bleeding corns and calluses
Dry cracks in the skin/heel
Inspect feet daily.
Check your feet and toes every day for cuts, bruises, sores, or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration.
Wear thick, soft socks.
Avoid socks with seams, which could rub and cause blisters or other skin injuries.
Walking can help control blood sugar, keep weight down, and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising.
Have new shoes properly measured and fitted.
Foot size and shape may change over time. Shoes that fit properly are important to those with diabetes.
Don’t go barefoot.
Don’t go without shoes, even in your own home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great for those with diabetes.
See a podiatrist.
Make at least two appointments a year with an APMA member podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert, to have your feet examined. This is a critical step in avoiding diabetic foot complications and amputation.
Preventing Foot Problems in Diabetes
- Quit smoking
- Smoking can worsen heat and vascular problems and reduce circulation of the feet
- Avoid activities that can injury the feet
- Some activities increase the risk of foot injury and are not recommended, including walking barefoot using a heating pad or hot water bottle on the feet, and stepping into the bathtub before testing the temperature
- Use care when trimming the nails
- If you have poor blood flow or neuropathy do NOT attempt to trim your nails on your own. Drs. Gonzales and Anthony will be able to assist in cutting the nails and any calluses.
- Wash and check the feet daily
- Use lukewarm water and mild soap to clean the feet. Gently pat your feet dry and apply a moisturizing cream or lotion
- Check the entire surface of both feet for skin breaks, blisters, swelling or redness, including between and underneath the toes where damage may be hidden.
- Use a mirror if it is difficulty to see al parts of the feet or ask a family member or caregiver to help
- Choose socks and shoes carefully
- Select socks that fit loosely and change the socks everyday. Select shoes that are snug but not too tight. Ask about diabetic shoes if your feet are misshapen or you have a history of ulcers. Specialized shoes can reduce the changes of developing foot ulcers in the future. Shoe inserts or orthotics may also help cushion the step and decrease pressure on the solves of the feet.
- See your podiatrist regularly! And if you see something change, say something!