People who are suffering from diabetes may, over time, suffer from nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy that can cause tingling and pain and can make you lose feeling in your feet. When you lose feeling in your feet, you may not feel a small rock inside your sock or a blister on your foot, which can lead to cuts and sores. Cuts and sores can become infected.
Diabetes also can lower the amount of blood flow in your feet. Not having enough blood flowing to your legs and feet can make it hard for a sore or an infection to heal. Sometimes, a bad infection never heals and might lead to gangrene.
Gangrene and foot ulcers that do not get better with treatment can lead to amputation of your toe, foot, or part of your leg. A surgeon may perform an amputation to prevent a bad infection from spreading to the rest of your body, and to save your life. Good foot care is very important to prevent serious infections and gangrene.
Although rare, nerve damage from diabetes can lead to changes in the shape of your feet, such as Charcot’s foot. Charcot’s foot may start with redness, warmth, and swelling. Later, bones in your feet and toes can shift or break, which can cause your feet to have an odd shape, such as a “rocker bottom.”
Recognizing that you have a sore or infection is essential to knowing when you require specialized diabetic foot ulcer care. However the best way to care for your feet is to prevent these wounds in the first place with these protective measures:
- Check your feet on a daily basis. Since people with diabetes may be less aware of pain in their feet due to decreased sensitivity, it is important to inspect one’s feet on a regular basis. Keep an eye open for cuts, cracks, blisters and other signs of the beginning of a wound. Use a mirror if you are having trouble seeing the bottoms of your feet or ask for help from a friend or family member.
- Keep your feet clean. Wash your feet every day with mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry them gently with a towel, being sure to get between the toes. You may want to finish off with lotion on the tops and bottoms of feet (to reduce the risk of blistering) and talcum powder in between the toes.
- Choose the right shoes. Your footwear should be tight enough to keep the fabric from rubbing against the skin and causing diabetic foot ulcers, but loose enough to be comfortable and not crowd the toes. In the case that one foot is bigger than the other, you should purchase shoes in the larger size. You might also wear orthopedic shoes custom made to fit the size, shape and contours of your feet. You can request a prescription for those shoes from your doctor.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking greatly reduces circulation, which can aggravate your blood flow issues and sensation problems in your feet. Speak to your clinician if you need help quitting.
- Get regular check-ups. People with diabetes should have a foot examination at least once a year according to the Mayo Clinic. During these appointments, a podiatrist or clinician can inspect your feet for circulation issues, early signs of nerve damage and other foot problems that could potentially lead to infection and amputation.
If you do experience a sore on your foot, consult with your doctor to determine the right wound care plan for you. He may prescribe the need for specialty footwear, dressings or other products to aid your speedy recovery.
About the Author:
Anne Ruth Dela Cruz is a seasoned writer who has interests in health, wellness and business start ups. She has also dabbled in corporate communications and public relations. A mother of four, Anne also loves videoke sessions and reading a good book. My posts appear on: Negosentro, World Executives Digest, Executive Chronicles, Get Health Access, and Trade & Travel Journal.