Individuals having diabetes are susceptible to multiple foot problems.
There are five primary foot problems caused by diabetes that are discussed in this article. These are all directly related to diabetes and poor blood sugar control. These problems do not take into count the skin care related issues which can compound any of these foot problems. The five include:
- Nerve damage
- Corns and calluses
- Foot ulcers
- Poor circulation
- Gangrene and amputation
Before we dig deeper into each issue, it should be noted that many of these problems can be controlled and alleviated by common sense and practical measures.
Nerve Damage of the Foot
When you begin to have loss of sensation, pain, or a cold feeling in your feet, you could be experiencing nerve damage as a result of your diabetes. With this, comes some side effects secondary to excess sweating. These symptoms could include dry, scale-like skin and peeling or cracking of the skin.
Are you away the nerve damage could result in foot deformity? Signs of foot deformity would include toes curling upwards, the balls of your feet beginning to protrude, and high arches. Significant changes like these can contribute to weight bearing issues, and in severe cases, disability.
Here are some suggestions regarding foot care and nerve damage:
- If you’ve lost some feeling in your feet.
- Do not go barefoot.
- Check inside of your shoes to make sure there are no objects inside.
- If your feet sweat alot.
- Wear thin socks made of slick or thing polypropylene under your regular socks.
- If your feet are dry and scale-like.
- Use moisturizer twice a day but not between your toes.
- Exfoliate your skin using baking soda.
- Do not soak your feet because they will dry out quickly.
- If your foot has changed shape, immediately see a podiatrist.
Corns and Calluses
Calluses are referred to as an area which has thickened because of prolonged pressure or friction on the layers of skin tissue. Individuals tht play the guitar will develope calluses on their finger tips, so not all calluses are considered bad. A corn is a callus which has developed on your toes, usually on the points where the most pressure is exerted in your stride. Many elderly people develope corns. Both corns and calluses can develope as a result of uneven weight distribution.
How to prevent calluses from forming:
- Wear shoes that fit and make sure there is room for your toes to move freely.
- Wear shoes with low heels and thick soles to cushion your heels.
- Try padded socks to cushion, protect, and relieve pressure on your feet.
- Use shoe inserts.
When a callus or corn does form, have it trimmed by your physician. Untrimmed calluses can develope into ulcers if left untreated.
Foot ulcers are open sores or holes that penetrate into the deeper layers of skin. These ulcers typically form on the bottom of the foot and big toe (once again areas where pressure is exerted.) They can also form on the soles, heels, or other toes given the right conditions.
What causes foot ulcers?
They are normally caused by a cut, callus, or blister which is not treated adequately. If an ulcer forms on the side of the foot, it is normally due to shoes that have been fitted improperly.
Steps to prevent foot ulcers:
- Wear shoes that fit.
- Wear new shoes for only a few hours until broken in.
- Wear socks that fit.
- Put on clean socks each day.
- Roll socks on gently each day.
- Check for objects in your shoes each day.
Poor Circulation of the Foot
Any damage to the blood vessels in the legs and feet could lead to poor circulation. Symptoms of poor circulation include cold feet or feet which look blue or swollen.
What to do if your feet are cold:
- Wear warm socks.
- Refrain from using water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets because they could burn the feet.
- Keep feet out of water that is either too hot or too cold.
What to do if your feet are swollen:
- Try wearing shoes which lace up and adjust the laces accordingly.
What are the symptoms of blood vessel damage to the legs and feet?
- Cramping or tightness in one or both legs
- Cold feet
- Pain in the egs or feet while at rest
- Loss of hair on the feet
- Shiny skin
- Thickened toe nails
Gangrene and Amputation of the Foot
When your tissues begin to die as a result of poor circulation or infection, it is referred to as gangrene. There are two types of gangrene: dry and wet. Dry gangrene is improved by creating better blood circulation to the foot. Antibiotics can also be taken to prevent or heal infection. Wet gangrene is the most serious and encompasses infection and amputation if left untreated.
Note: Almost all people with diabetes needing amputation are smokers.
Steps to care for your feet:
- Check both feet each day.
- Keep your feet clean.
- Keep your toe nails clean and trimmed.
- Have your feet checked by your physician on visits.
- Keep your blood sugar levels in normal ranges.