These two complications can create a myriad of diabetic foot problems which can lead to diabetic foot infection, diabetic foot ulcers, gangrene and even amputation of the foot and/or leg. Healing ability is going to be impaired with poor blood supply, making you more prone to diabetic foot infection.
Impaired sensation to the feet due to nerve damage predisposes diabetics to damage to the feet. One may step on something dangerous (eg. glass, nail, splinter) and not feel it. You may even have trouble distinguishing water temperature differences, and may obtain dangerous skin burn. Sometimes Some people’s shoes are too small or too narrow, giving rise to corn, callus or lesion formation and quite possible diabetic foot ulcer formation.
Prevention is crucial and very simple.
1. Feet must be checked thoroughly every day.
This only takes 30 seconds and could save your life. Here you are checking for damage of any kind, (eg. athletes foot, cracks, cuts, scratches, corns, etc.)
2. Visit your podiatrist for regular exams.
Some may only need reviewing every six months, others may need to be seen monthly/bimonthly. Your diabetic foot care needs will be determined by the current state of your feet and how diligent you are in preventing diabetic foot problems. Ask for advice on how to care for your skin and trim toenails correctly.
3. Always wear footwear
Footwear plays a crucial role in protecting our feet, especially when you are a diabetic. They help to prevent damage from foreign objects and the environment. Ensure shoes fit correctly as irritation from shoes can cause lesions, corns, ulceration, blistering and infection. Use your hands to check the inside of your shoes regularly for any possible irritants or splinters. Sometimes specific diabetic shoes are required for those who cannot tolerated over-the-counter shoes.
4. Exercise regularly
Daily walks for 20-30 minutes help to improve blood supply to your feet and have a positive effect on your diabetes, in general. If you have trouble walking, see your Podiatrist. You may need to attempt cycling or swimming until you can walk comfortably.
5. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water.
Ensure the water is not too hot and dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes. Have a friend/family member test the water temperature.
6. Use a moisturizer after bathing the feet.
Dry skin and cracking can occur especially if you bathe the feet for too long. Avoid bathing the feet for longer than 15 minutes and apply moisturizing foot cream/lotion regularly. Avoid applying lotion between the toes, where it tends to be moist naturally.
7. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
This can cause problems with your circulation.
8. NEVER attempt at home surgery or self removal of corns, calluses or ingrown toenails.
These problems should be managed professionally, by your podiatrist. Diabetic foot care requires regular podiatry visits.
9. Avoid smoking
This decreases blood supply to your feet and decreases the healing quality of your blood, lengthening your healing time, predisposing you to infection and other foot problems. Smoking with diabetes, is probably the worst thing you can do for your health and may lead to amputation.
10. Always communicate with your podiatrist.
If in doubt about anything at all, contact your podiatrist. Prevention is always better than treatment especially when dealing with diabetic foot care.