When it comes to foot health, people with diabetes have to be a bit more careful than the general population. People with diabetes frequently contend with foot problems that, if left untreated, can lead to serious consequences. Diabetes affects the entire body, but it’s especially harmful to feet and toes because the condition can cause poor circulation. Diabetic neuropathy, one of the most common complications of diabetes, causes tingling, pain, and, in some cases, a loss of feeling due to nerve damage. Loss of sensation can be extremely dangerous, as it can cause a wound on the foot to go unnoticed. If the wound isn’t cared for, it could grow into a severe infection or foot ulcer — especially for patients with diabetes. If not addressed, the infection could lead to gangrene or even amputation. In addition, patients with diabetes may find that foot sores are slow to mend. That can be caused by another common reaction to diabetes, peripheral vascular disease. This condition causes blood flow to the extremities to slow, making it harder for wounds to heal. It can also change the shape of the foot or result in extremely dry skin. In addition to regular visits to a foot care specialist, patients with diabetes can be proactive in caring for their feet. Daily examinations of their feet can prevent what may seem like minor problems from developing into acute infections or more serious conditions. Caring For Your Feet if You Have Diabetes Proper foot care is vital for people with diabetes to avoid dangerous infections. Here are five foot care tips for people with diabetes:
- Check Feet Daily. Although everyone gets blisters, ingrown toenails, and calluses, these seemingly minor issues may set the stage for an infection. A daily check-up also spots sores and areas of redness. You also shouldn’t try to remove a callus; rather, you should gently rub it away with a pumice stone after bathing.
- Wash Feet Daily. Though it’s important to keep the feet clean, people with diabetes should avoid soaking their feet in hot water. Instead, warm water and a mild soap is recommended. Afterwards, they should dry their feet thoroughly, paying particular attention to the areas between the toes. Moisturizing the feet keeps the skin on the feet from becoming dry and cracked. However, don’t moisturize between toes — rather, dust the toes with cornstarch or talcum powder.
- Wear Shoes and Socks. Wearing closed-toe shoes with socks protects feet from scrapes or intense heat or cold; at the same time, wearing sandals or going barefoot further increases the chance of a cut. Opt for comfortable shoes that don’t constrict the toes; some specialty medical stores sell shoes designed for this purpose.
- Visit a Foot Care Specialist. Patients who notice a change in the shape of their foot, loss of feeling, dry, cracked skin, a slow-healing sore, or patches of warmth on the skin should visit a foot care specialist. An infection emitting a foul odor could signal gangrene and requires immediate attention. The doctor can diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment. Routine checkups monitor any changes.
- Stay Healthy. The best way to protect foot health is to take prescribed medicine, avoid cigarettes, and eat healthy. Staying active also promotes foot health, and exercises like walking, yoga, swimming, and biking are less harsh on the feet.
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