Diabetic Foot Care Tips – Complications, Symptoms, Prevention

Posted May 27, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

Diabetes can affect many aspects of your life and your health. Many people don’t realize diabetes can have severely negative effects on a person’s feet. So, in this article, we are going to discuss why diabetes affects your feet, as well as diabetic foot care tips.

Here is a quick summary, then we will cover this topic farther.

Diabetic Foot Care: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause individuals to start losing feeling in their feet. This can lead to sores and cuts that become infected. So, patients with diabetes need to take proper care of their feet by washing and checking the bottoms of their feet daily. It is recommended for patients with diabetes to see a podiatrist at least once a year to receive professional medical advice.

Now that you have a brief understanding, here is everything you need to know about diabetic foot care.

Why is Foot Care so Important for Diabetics?

Diabetic Foot Care Tips

We first need to gain a better understanding of why foot care for people with diabetes is crucial and how diabetes specifically causes problems with the feet.

Diabetes is a condition that causes blood glucose levels to rise. This condition may occur due to insulin resistance, a lack of insulin production, or an autoimmune response. There are different types of diabetes, but all of them can cause detrimental effects to a person’s health due to high blood sugar levels.

One of these adverse effects of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage caused by chronically high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia). This nerve damage particularly affects a person’s feet.

Nerve damage and poor blood circulation significantly impact the healing process and the sense of feeling. So, a diabetes patient that has nerve damage may not feel a blister that has formed or a small cut on the bottom of their foot. If the patient does not realize they have a small wound on the bottom of their foot, then the injury will not get proper treatment.

Combine the lack of treatment with the slow healing process, and infection is prone to happen. This infection can become very serious and can lead to amputations in some cases.

Therefore, diabetic foot care is crucial and cannot be overlooked.

Foot Complications Due to Diabetes

The major problems contributing to diabetic foot problems include peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease. We have already briefly discussed neuropathy, but artery disease is the narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup. This leads to decreased blood circulation to certain parts of the body.

People with diabetes tend to have an increased risk of developing ulcers to their feet.

Many problems that occur with the feet are not directly related to diabetes, but diabetes certainly increases a person’s risk of having such problems. So, foot complications that are often caused indirectly by diabetes include bunions, calluses, hammertoe, fungal infections, dry skin, and ingrown toenails.

It is essential for an individual with diabetes to look for symptoms of problems with their feet.

Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Problems

Diabetic Foot Care TipsSymptoms of diabetic foot problems that may indicate nerve damage or poor blood circulation include:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Loss of sensation
  • Blisters, cuts, or scrapes that have no pain
  • Skin discoloration
  • Temperature changes in your feet
  • Staining on socks
  • Painful tingling

If a person with diabetic foot problems develops an infection, then symptoms of an infection include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
  • Redness
  • Shaking

It is important to note that if you have any of the symptoms mentioned but have not been diagnosed with diabetes, then this may be a sign that you have undiagnosed diabetes. Consult your doctor right away if you are having any of these symptoms.

Diabetes Foot Care Tips and Guidelines

There are certain guidelines that diabetes patients should follow to ensure they are taking proper care of their feet to avoid infections. Here are tips and guidelines for diabetic foot care that will help individuals avoid complications.

Check Feet Daily

Individuals with diabetes should be checking their feet daily. This includes looking at the bottoms of their feet and in between their toes. Cuts, scrapes, and blisters can sometimes go unnoticed, especially if you have lost sensitivity in your feet. You may have to use a magnifying glass or mirror to make sure you see any small sores or cuts.

Avoid Going Barefoot

Those with diabetes should avoid going around barefoot. Depending on where you live, and the culture you grew up in, going outside barefoot may be common. For example, Floridians may prefer going barefoot, especially around the beach centered communities. This can pose a risk of getting cuts from glass, rocks, and so on. This can be dangerous for those that have little feeling in their feet or poor blood circulation. It may take much longer for these wounds to heal.

Care For Calluses

Calluses form naturally to help protect the feet. However, calluses can become very thick and eventually turn into ulcers. Therefore, it is crucial to care for any calluses you have on the bottom of your feet. You can use a pumice stone to keep calluses under control. Apply lotion after using a pumice stone. Talk to your doctor about any severe calluses you have.

Wash Feet Daily

You should make a conscious effort to wash your feet daily. This includes washing the bottoms of your feet and in between your toes using warm water. Avoid soaking your feet as this can lead to dry and cracked skin.

Dry Feet Completely

Make sure to dry your feet thoroughly after washing them and keep them dry throughout the day. Avoid walking around in wet shoes or socks due to snow, rain, or sweat. When drying your feet, pat the bottoms of your feet and between your toes with a clean towel.

Exercise Regularly

You should do your best to exercise your legs and feet regularly. Exercise helps increase your blood flow, which is beneficial for helping your body heal and helping you avoid major foot problems.

Wear Socks Specific For Diabetics

There are socks made specifically for patients with diabetes. These socks help keep the patient’s feet dry and provide extra padding. They are designed to help prevent poor blood circulation as well. These socks may be for you if you have had foot problems and have lost sensitivity in your feet.

Check Your Shoes

With diabetes patients having the potential to lose feeling in their feet, they must check their shoes for any objects before putting them on. A patient may not feel a pebble inside their shoe, which can cause a wound if the shoe is worn for some time.

Diabetic Foot Care Tips

Visit Your Doctor

If you have diabetes, then you should have a foot exam at least once a year. In many cases, your endocrinologist can perform your foot exam. Visiting a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) may be recommended if you have had foot problems in the past. Receiving a foot exam by a professional will prevent individuals with diabetes from having major foot complications.

Conclusion

We hope this has given you an understanding of how essential diabetic foot care is for those managing their diabetes condition. If you have any questions regarding your specific condition, then speak with your doctor.

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