Diabetes is lifelong problem and one that comes with several other related health problems. Amongst several other health issues, a person suffering from diabetes is also very prone to serious complications in the foot.
Diabetes can lead to two major problems that can affect the feet including:
Diabetic Neuropathy: Also known as sensory diabetic neuropathy, this problem damages the nerves in the legs and feet causing loss of senses for heat, cold, or pain in the feet. An unattended injury can act as a breeding ground for infections, causing damage to the muscles and affecting your overall movement.
Peripheral Vascular Disease: Diabetes is also known to hamper the free flow of blood in the body, causing lack of proper blood in the foot, which implies that a sore or a cut take longer than usual to heal providing more chances for infections, ulcers and gangrene.
In some cases, diabetes do not trigger foot problems but certain foot problems are aggravated due to diabetes and cause serious complications which can also result in amputation. Some of the foot problems that are worsened by diabetes are:
- Athlete’s Foot
- Fungal infection in nails
- Dry skin
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar Warts
The best way to foot problems because of diabetes is to pay attentions to symptoms that act as warning. Though these symptoms could vary from case-to-case, yet it is beneficial to keep a look out for the following if you have diabetes:
- Loss of feeling or numbness
- Frequent tingling sensations
- Sudden, unexplained changes in skin colour
- Change in skin temperature
- Swollen foot or ankle
- Chronic pain in legs
- Slow healing open sores
- Non-painful foot injuries, cuts, etc.
- Corns or calluses
- Infected toe nails
- Ingrown nails
- Cracks on the heel
- Foul smelling and extremely strong foot odour
If these symptoms are not adhered to and proper medical care is not received, a diabetic patient may suffer serious complications such as skin and bone infections, abscess, gangrene, deformities, Charcot foot, and amputation in worst case scenario. However, proper foot care can prevent such complications, hence, it is best to follow certain tips to treat diabetic foot problems.
- Try to keep your diabetes in control. Take proper consultation from the doctor regarding the food, nutrition, exercise regime, as well as medication.
- Remember to cleanse your feet with warm water every day and use a mild soap to wash the dirt off. Do not keep you feet soaked in water, just wash them and then dry your feet well including the toes.
- Keep a check on your feet for blisters, sore, ulcers, corns, redness, calluses, or a cut or injury. A slow healing injury or cut is an alarm for medical attention. Diabetic patients with poor blood flow should strictly monitor their feet health on a daily basis.
- Consult your doctor regarding a medicated lotion to keep your feet hydrated and not dry. Apply the lotion well to avoid dryness; however, do not apply lotion between toes to avoid build up of fungus.
- Clean your feet daily, especially check for any dirt stuck between toe fingers. Remember to gently remove the dirt and keep the area clean and dry.
- Trim your toenails regularly, avoid in growth of toe nails, clean your toe nails and keep checking the toe nails for any kind of fungal infection. Do not cut the nails too deep, do not cut the sides of the toe nails or round off the sides, instead gently file the shape without causing a cut on the sides.
- Preferably wear closed or covered shoes and slippers to avoid contact with bacteria.
- Do not walk barefoot in the house or outside.
- Wear soft elastic, well-fitted socks or stockings to protect the feet.
- Check your shoes before wearing
- Take proper size of the shoe, avoid shoes that are too tight or cause discomfort or shoe bite.
- Protect your feet from excessive heat or cold temperatures.
- Avoid smoking s it affects the blood flow to the tissues.
- Ensure good blood flow to the feet by doing small movements, not crossing legs or keeping legs down for too long. It is advisable to keep the legs up to have smooth blood flow.
- Get your feet checked during your regular doctor visits to detect any problems early on stage.
- Consult a specialized foot doctor within a gap of 3-4 months.
While not all complications from diabetes may be controlled or evaded, but the foot problems can be avoided provided proper care and attentive medical care is given to nib the problem in the bud, instead of taking corrective treatments or measures.