On average, an individual will walk four and a half times around the world during their lifetime! With as much as we are on our feet, foot problems are common for most adults. With 29 joints, 42 muscles, and 26 bones, our feet are susceptible to many issues. Diabetes affects a lot more than just blood sugar. If not properly cared for, it affects the nerves and blood vessels in the legs and feet, leading to a higher risk of problems in these areas. Keep reading to learn more about the care of the diabetic foot and how to prevent issues.
What causes foot problems in diabetics?
Diabetics have increased risks of both nerve and blood vessel damage, which can result in a lack of sensation or numbness. The lack of sensitivity can lead to a greater risk of trauma, infections or irritations that a non-diabetic person would sense much earlier. It is critical to watch for potential issues because even the most minor injuries can lead to significant infections or potential loss of a limb.
Care of the Diabetic Foot: Ways to Prevent Issues
Preventing foot problems is vital for all adults to maintain their overall health, particularly those like diabetics who are susceptible to foot problems. The following is a list of suggestions and recommendations that one should follow to help prevent and treat arising issues:
- Keep your feet clean: Our feet should be washed daily with mild soap in moderate-temperature water. The toes and feet should be dried carefully, especially where the moisture can cause skin breakdown and fungal growth, such as between the toes.
- Keep your feet dry: Wearing socks and shoes discourages airflow, leading to the production of sweat. This moisture can cause the skin to break down if left unattended. A good foot powder, used sparingly between the toes daily, can help reduce the build-up of moisture and bacteria inside shoes. If the powder dries out your feet, you can use a cream to prevent cracking. You should be careful, however, not to put any moisturizers between the toes for the reasons mentioned above.
- Carefully inspect your feet daily: Diabetics must check for blisters, scratches, cuts, bruising, or hot spots (areas that become red after walking for some time) every day to prevent escalating issues. Due to potential nerve damage and lack of sensitivity, it is possible to have a severe injury to the foot and not know about it. Inspect the entire foot, top and bottom, and in-between the toes. You may need to wear your glasses, use a magnifying glass, or in some cases, consider having a family member inspect your feet for you.
- Toenail Care: The toenails should be kept relatively short and cut straight across to prevent ingrown nails. If you have an ingrown nail, do not attempt to remove these on your own, and consult a physician instead.
- Use fresh socks daily: Daily hygiene and clean socks can help protect your feet long-term. The socks should be well fitting and seamless without ridges or areas that might cause blisters or sores. Specific diabetic socks are available that do not have any stitching on the inside of them to prevent injury to the feet.
What factors contribute to foot problems in diabetics?
- Walking bare-footed
- Chronic moisture on the feet
- Wearing shoes without socks
- Applying heat to feet, such as hot water or heating pads
- Infections from improper care of corns or calluses, such as the use of chemical agents for the treatment of warts or “bathroom surgery”
How important are shoes?
A properly fitting shoe is crucial to keep your feet in good shape. Inspecting your shoes daily before putting them on can help you identify foreign objects that could cause injury. Check for torn linings or prominent stitching and cover or repair to prevent blisters. Remember that as a diabetic, you may experience a lack of sensation, so a small object in the shoe may become a big problem if it rubs against the foot all day. In some circumstances, you may want to look into a custom pair of shoes to ensure a good fit.
What else can I do?
Anything that improves the blood flow to the feet can help prevent disease and keep the foot healthy. Walking, which exercises the legs without causing severe physical stress to the feet, is an excellent way to do this.
Diabetes is a serious disease that can cause a variety of problems. The care of the diabetic foot is crucial and can be a source of great distress if a complication occurs. In most cases, you can prevent problems with proper care by checking your feet daily and having an annual podiatry check with a qualified specialist. If you are experiencing foot problems due to your diabetes, make an appointment today.