High Risk Feet: Diabetes

In Foot Facts by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

For those of you with diabetes, your feet require special attention. Circulation problems, infections and nerve damage can result in serious foot problems for diabetes patients. Proper foot care for diabetes is necessary in order to maintain healthy feet and avoid amputation.

High risk feet diabetes

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that impact the usage of blood sugar (glucose) by the body. Glucose is a key part of your health because it is a vital source of energy for the cells that make up your tissues and muscles. Glucose is also the main source of fuel for the brain.

Diabetes is marked by the body’s inability to make or properly use insulin.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Extreme hunger
  • Numbness or tingling of the feet or hands
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Susceptibility to particular infections

Because diabetes affects the feet by either decreasing circulation to the feet or by decreasing sensation in the feet (causing injuries to go unnoticed), proper foot care for diabetics is essential in reducing the risk of developing foot problems. Here is a checklist on how to maintain proper foot care.

  1. Watch Out for Warning Signs

In order to prevent amputation in people with diabetes, the key is early recognition and regular foot checks by a podiatrist. Additionally, you should frequently check the heels, soles, sides and tops your feet, as well as in between the toes, and watch out for:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Swelling of the ankle or foot
  • Increased skin temperature
  • Pain in the legs when walking or exercising
  • Open sores
  • Dry cracks
  • Wounds that take long to heal
  • Thick, ingrown or discolored toenails

If you struggle to check your own feet, have someone do it for you.

  1. Wash Feet Daily

Wash your feet with lukewarm water and a mild soap. Be sure to check the temperature of the water with your elbow first, the reason being that diabetes causes loss of sensation. Carefully dry your feet with a soft towel, taking care to not rub vigorously as this may cause tears in the skin. Use talcum powder to get rid of excess moisture, particularly between the toes.

3. Proper Footwear

Proper foot care in diabetics goes a long way in preventing amputation. Soft thick socks made from an acrylic or wool blend are ideal. Avoid socks with seams as these can cause blisters or other skin injuries.

Shoes should have a snug fit but should not be tight. It will help to be properly measured and fitted whenever you purchase a new pair of shoes as foot shape can change over time. If your shoes need to be “broken in,” it is best that this be done slowly.

Shoes made out of a breathable material such as leather are also ideal. Always inspect your shoes for tears or loose objects.

Avoid high heels, shoes with pointed toes and sandals with straps between the first two toes. These types of shoes can cause bone and joint issues and put pressure on parts of the foot.

  1. Never Go Barefoot

This puts you at risk for unnoticed cuts and scrapes that can turn into nasty infections, which can result in amputations. It is important to always wear shoes or slippers.

Other important things to consider in foot care for diabetics are:

  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Don’t wear clothing that is tight around the legs
  • Never attempt to remove corns, calluses or warts on your own

Proper foot care for diabetics is essential in preventing health complications and amputation. Contact Step by Step today to find out how we can help you with foot care for diabetics.