Foot Care and Diabetes

Foot Care and Diabetes go hand in hand when it comes to someone with either Type I Diabetes or Type II Diabetes. There are many complications with Diabetes including: Kidneys, Heart, metabolic syndrome, vision changes, and other organ damage.

The feet are especially sensitive to the effects of prolonged high blood sugar and are at a huge risk.

Foot Care and Diabetes is an important area that needs additional addressing. Often we treat the cause of Diabetes, and focus less on some of the additional problems. But, every diabetic has some issue – great or small that has to do with their feet. Foot care and diabetes should not be overlooked.

Treatment of Diabetes is often through medications: Oral and Insulin depending on the type and severity. Treatment with Insulin or Oral medications will decrease the potential complications of Foot care and Diabetes.

Let’s take a Look at Some of the Potential Foot Complications:

1.)  Diabetic Neuropathy

–  This is when the nerves of the legs go haywire
–  The Nerves in the Legs and Feet can get damaged
–  You might not be able to feel heat and cold – Lack of Sensation
–  You might have a chronic sensation as if your feet and legs are burning or are feeling stabbing sensations.
–  The muscles of your foot may stop working properly
–  Sores on your feet can develop
–  There is a higher risk for infection

2.)  Peripheral Vascular Disease

–  The blood flow to the lower extremities is affected by Diabetes.
–  This causes an increased risk for infection
–  It takes longer for sores or injuries to heal
–  Poor blood flow
–  Increased risk for developing ulcers and gangrene (death of the tissue)

3.)  Fungal infections of the skin and/or Toenails

–  Fungal infection of the skin is also known as Athlete’s Foot
–  Skin breakdown, itching, redness, and other symptoms can be seen
–  Treatment is usually a topical cream
–  Treatment may be less effective in patients with Diabetes
–  Fungal infection in toenails causes a color change, thickening, brittle, breakage, and other symptoms of the nail itself.
–  Treatment requires oral medications for several weeks. Treatment can also be damaging to the liver.

4.)  Foot Ulcers

–  Ulcers are skin breakdown that can happen on the bottom of the foot, toes, and between the toes.
–  Often the breakdown is not felt by the patient.
–  Can be minimal to just the top layer of skin or can be severe, going all the way to the bone.
–  Can be caused by an infection or not.
–  An infection could be secondary to an open wound
–  Can be caused from typical movement, a small scrape, or large injury. Poor shoes or insoles can be to blame.

5.)  Ingrown Toenail

–  Occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the skin
–  Often is initially painless
–  Increase risk for infection is noted.
–  Swelling, Redness, Drainage, etc can be found over time
–  Increased risk to cause ingrown toenail includes: Improper shoes – to small or too tight, improper cutting of toenail, etc.

6.)  Dry Skin

–  Skin can be dry and this can crack
–  Can increase risk of bacterial infections, fungal infections, sores, and ulcers.
–  Poor circulation can lead to increase dryness

7.)  Blisters

– An area that occurs when the shoes rub on the same spot
–  A fluid filled area can develop.
–  Can be painful or painless
–  Increases risk for infection if you “pop” the blister

8.)  Corns

–  It is a build-up of skin near a bony area of a toe or between toes.
–  The skin is usually thick and hard
–  Caused by pressure from shoes that rub against the toes or cause friction between the toes.
–  Treatment include pumice stone after showers and bathes. A specialist, podiatrist is an important treatment option.
–  In a diabetic patient: Do no use a sharp object to treat.

9.)  Calluses

–  It is a buildup of hard skin typically on the bottom of the feet.
–  Can also be found on other parts of the body – hands, etc in a non-diabetic patient because of their occupation or hobby.
–  Often caused by an uneven distribution of weight
–  Most everyone will have some level of calluses on feet but diabetics have a larger amount.
– Treatment include pumice stone after showers and bathes. A specialist, podiatrist is an important treatment option.
–  In a diabetic patient: Do no use a sharp object to treat.

10.)  Leg Edema

–  This is also called Leg swelling
–  Can be seen in Diabetics
–  Often the tightness is noted at the end of the day or after standing a long period of time
–  Has to do with the circulation of the blood in diabetics
–  Can be seen in other medical conditions as well
–  Increase risk for ulcers, neuropathy, and others

Prevention of Foot Problems

1.)  Treat Diabetes appropriately. This includes proper eating habits, good blood sugar control, and taking medications
2.)  Exercise often – even small movements can help
3.)  Wash your feet with warm water every day (Not hot or cold)
4.)  Use a small amount of soap to wash
5.)  Dry your feet very well
6.)  Gently use Pumice stone a few times a week.
7.)  Find a good lotion and apply it daily
8.)  If you use an Emery board – only go in one direction (No back and forth movement)
9.)  Check for sores daily
10.)  Check your toenails once a week
11.)  Wear good shoes – closed toed or slippers
12.)  Always wear socks or stockings
13.)  Don’t walk barefoot
14.)  Elevate feet when sitting
15.)  Protect against the cold
16.)  Stop smoking
17.)  Treat other medical conditions such as Depression, Hypertension (high blood pressure, etc.)
18.)  See a podiatrist every few months

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