How To Prevent Diabetic Feet Problems?
Diabetic feet problems are common among diabetes patients. Good knowledge and practice in diabetes foot care can prevent serious foot complications. Preventing an unpleasant situation is always better than handling it. Isn’t it? Read further to know about what feet problems can arise from high blood sugar and how to prevent them.
Diabetic Feet Problems Every Diabetic Should Be Aware Of
Loss of sensation: Half of the people with diabetes have some type of nerve damage. Nerve damage can occur in any body part, but the legs and feet are most likely to get affected. Nerve damage in feet can cause weakness, burning, tingling, or pain in the foot. It can also cause loss of sensation in the foot. You may not notice the blister, cut, sore, or you may injure the foot due to loss of sensation. These problems can lead to serious problems if left untreated.
Poor healing of wounds and infections: High blood sugar can cause narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels in the legs and feet, and it can decrease the blood supply in the feet. Poor blood supply can raise the risk of diabetic foot ulcers and make it hard for wounds or infections to heal. If a bad infection doesn’t get better, a part of the leg needs to be removed by surgery (amputation) to prevent the spreading of the infection.
Skin changes: Nerve damage affects the oil and moisture control in the feet, and it can cause the skin to peel and crack and become very dry. Calluses and corns (areas of thick or tough skin) build up faster in the feet of diabetic people. Normally the corns and calluses protect the areas of the feet that work hardest. Since healing is impaired in diabetic people, corns and calluses can sometimes mask diabetic feet problems such as foot ulcers. Hence taking care of them is different in diabetic people.
Changes in shape: Diabetes may cause the bones in the feet and toes to shift or break. A lessened sensation can prevent people from realizing it. They keep walking on broken bones, and the foot shape will change. It can lead to an odd shape, such as a “rocker bottom” (Charcot’s foot). Nerve damage can also cause abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe, claw-like toes, etc.
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight, and having diabetes for a long time can increase foot problems from nerve damage. Loss of sensation coupled with slow healing in diabetes makes diabetes foot care most important to prevent serious diabetic feet problems.
Diabetes Foot Care Tips
Managing blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol levels is the ultimate in avoiding diabetic feet problems. Follow the below-given tips regularly to keep your feet healthy in diabetes.
Inspect your feet daily: As you might not feel any pain in your feet, checking your feet daily becomes the ultimate step in diabetes foot care. Look for sores, blisters, corns, calluses, or any other changes in skin or nails. If you cannot see the bottom, use a mirror or ask your family member to look. If you find any redness, bruises, or blisters, contact your doctor as soon as possible to avoid serious problems.
Keep your feet clean and dry: Wash your feet with warm water using a mild soap. Check the water temperature using your elbows to make sure it is not too hot. Placing the feet in hot temperatures can cause blisters and burns that open the door to infection. Dry thoroughly using a towel after washing. Infection can develop in moist areas. You can put talcum powder between your toes to keep them dry. Avoid soaking the feet as it may cause the skin to become too dry.
Wear footwear all day: Whether inside or outside, always wear slippers or shoes and shocks to avoid sores, blisters, etc. Avoid wearing vinyl or plastic shoes as they do not stretch or allow feet to breathe. Choose shoes that fit well and have plenty of space in the toe part. Your feet naturally expand with use during the day. To buy the best fit shoes, buy them at the end of the day when the feet are a little larger than in the morning.
The physician may recommend special shoes called orthotics for people with changes in shape or ulcers. They are available at online and specialty stores. When wearing new footwear, wear them only for one or two hours per day until you feel comfortable with them.
Promote blood flow in your feet: Wiggle your toes for a few minutes every day, and put your feet up when sitting. Stay physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week. Choose mild activities such as walking, yoga, and swimming. Quit smoking as smoking can constrict and damage the blood vessels in the feet.
Take care of your toenails: Routine toenail care is essential for diabetes foot care. It avoids getting ulcers or soreness in the foot. Trim the toenails straight across after washing when your nails are soft and easy to trim. Avoid cutting into the corners and smooth the sharp edges using a nail file. If you cannot feel the nails, if the nails are thick or yellow in color or if the nails curve and grow into the skin, visit a foot doctor to get your nails trimmed.
Smooth corns or calluses: Use pumice stone daily to keep calluses and corns under control. Use them in wet skin and rub gently in a single direction. Put a lotion right after using the pumice stone. Never try to cut corns or calluses by yourself as they may lead to infections. Visit a doctor to remove them and discuss the best way to take care of them.
Seek Medical Care
Ask your doctor to check your feet at every health care visit. Report to your health care professional if you notice any pain, calluses, bruises, or blisters in the feet. Know about other health problems that can arise from diabetes.