Diabetic Foot Care Guide
Living with diabetes requires careful management of various aspects of your health, and one often overlooked aspect is foot care. Diabetes can have a significant impact on your feet, and neglecting their care can lead to severe complications. In this guide, we will explore how diabetes affects your feet, what you should pay attention to, and what you can do at home to ensure your feet remain healthy and problem-free.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body processes glucose, leading to high blood sugar levels. Over time, these elevated glucose levels can lead to nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow (peripheral vascular disease) in your extremities, including your feet. These two factors, neuropathy, and poor circulation play a central role in diabetes-related foot problems.
Neuropathy: High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in your feet, leading to a loss of sensation. As a result, you may not feel pain, heat, or cold, making you more vulnerable to injuries and infections.
Poor circulation: Diabetes can damage blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the feet. This impairs the body’s ability to heal wounds, making infections more challenging to control.
What Are Some Things to Pay Attention To?
To keep your feet healthy and minimize the risk of complications, it’s essential to pay attention to the following:
- Check your feet daily: Examine your feet for any cuts, blisters, sores, or redness. Since neuropathy may dull your sensation, you may not feel these issues until they become severe.
- Wash your feet daily: Use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean your feet, and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Never go barefoot: Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries, as you might not notice if you step on a sharp object or a hot surface.
- Wear shoes that fit well: Choose comfortable, well-fitting shoes that provide proper support. Avoid tight, pointed-toe, or high-heeled shoes that can cause pressure points and lead to sores.
- Trim your toenails straight across: To prevent ingrown toenails and potential infections, cut your toenails straight across, and don’t cut them too short.
- Don’t remove corns or calluses yourself: Attempting to remove these foot conditions at home can result in injury or infection. Seek professional care from our podiatrists.
- Get your feet checked at every healthcare visit: Make sure your healthcare provider examines your feet during routine check-ups to catch any issues early.
- Keep the blood flowing: Encourage good circulation by avoiding sitting with crossed legs, wiggling your toes, and engaging in regular physical activity.
- Choose feet-friendly activities: Opt for activities that are gentle on your feet, such as swimming, cycling, or walking, rather than high-impact sports that can cause foot trauma.
If You’re Not Feeling Anything, Tell Your Doctor
One of the most insidious aspects of diabetes-related foot complications is that you may not feel pain or discomfort even when there is a problem. This is why it’s crucial to communicate with your healthcare provider and report any unusual sensations, changes in your feet, or signs of infection promptly.
When to Come in and See Us?
Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider and our podiatrists are essential for preventing and managing diabetic foot issues. In addition to routine visits, there are specific situations that warrant an immediate appointment:
- If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, swelling, discharge, or a foul odor from a wound or sore.
- If you develop an open sore, ulcer, or blister that doesn’t start to heal within a few days.
- If you experience pain, tingling, or burning in your feet, legs, or toes.
- If you notice changes in the shape, color, or texture of your toenails or skin.
Proper diabetic foot care is essential to prevent complications that can have serious consequences. By following the guidelines mentioned above and staying vigilant about the health of your feet, you can maintain a high quality of life while living with diabetes. Regular communication with your healthcare team and seeking prompt medical attention when necessary will help you keep your feet in the best possible condition. Remember, your feet are a vital part of your overall well-being, and they deserve the attention and care they need to stay healthy.