Unmanaged diabetes can cause problems with your blood vessels and your nerves, particularly in your extremities.
As a result, minor injuries don’t heal and worsen over time, increasing your risk of infection and other complications. That’s why if you have diabetes, you must take care of your feet.
We believe that education is critical to protecting your health, so let’s review how diabetes affects your feet and how you can protect your feet from diabetes-related complications.
Diabetes and your feet
Diabetes increases your risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD narrows the arteries in your extremities, which reduces circulation — particularly in your feet.
Reduced circulation means that your skin, muscles, and connective tissue don’t receive the platelets and growth factors that help your cells regenerate. As a result, you might not heal as you should and have an increased risk of infection.
For example, if you get a small cut on your foot, it could become a diabetic foot ulcer, which is an open wound that doesn’t heal.
If not treated correctly, a foot ulcer can deepen and eventually reach your bone. The open wound is also susceptible to infection, gangrene, and necrosis.
Statistics show that foot ulcers precede 85% of amputations caused by diabetes.
Neuropathy is another common complication of diabetes that can affect your feet. Nearly half of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy from continuously elevated blood sugar levels.
Neuropathy causes various symptoms, including sensation loss. If you don’t have sensation in your feet, you won’t know if you develop a blister or injure your foot in any other way.
Fortunately, you can take a few steps to protect your feet when you have diabetes.
See your podiatrist regularly
Our podiatrists offer diabetic foot care services and exams so we can catch minor problems before they become potentially dangerous complications. Let us deal with corns or calluses on your foot. We can even trim your nails to prevent injury.
Examine your feet at home
Look your feet over every day. Check for abrasions, cuts, corns, calluses, redness, swelling, or nail problems. If you can’t see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror.
Use lukewarm water in the bath
If you prefer baths, use a thermometer to test the water before you get in. Nerve damage could increase your risk of stepping into scalding water without realizing it until too late.
Take care of your feet
Do your best to keep your feet clean and dry, and wear appropriate socks. If you know you’re going to spend a long time on your feet, such as when going on a hike or having a long shift at work, bring extra socks and change during the day. Take care not to let your feet sit in hot, sweaty socks and shoes for hours.
Take time to carefully clean and dry your feet every day, including between your toes. Choose diabetic socks with loose elastic tops that don’t constrict blood flow.
Wear well-fitting shoes
Choose shoes that fit correctly, with plenty of room available for your toes. Stay away from high heels or shoes with pointed toes. These shoes can compress your toes and cause pressure points that can lead to blisters and other injuries.
We recommend that if you find a particular brand of shoe that you love to buy more than one pair if you can afford it. This way, you can give each pair a chance to breathe and dry out after each wear.
Wear shoes all the time
Even at home, you should wear shoes. Going barefoot increases your chances of getting a cut on the bottom of your foot. Your risk of injury is even higher if you’re outside or in the locker room at the gym.
For expert diabetic foot care services, make an appointment at either of our locations by phone or online today.