30 Mar Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetes mellitus (DM) represents several diseases in which high blood glucose levels over time can damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Diabetes can also decrease the body’s ability to fight infection. When diabetes is not well controlled, damage to the organs and impairment of the immune system is likely. Diabetes also commonly causes foot problems that can quickly become serious.
With damage to the nervous system, a person with diabetes may not be able to feel his or her feet properly because the normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin is impaired. This can lead to abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking and can lead to breakdown of the skin of the foot. For this reason, it’s fairly common for sores to develop.
Damage to blood vessels and impairment of the immune system from diabetes can make it difficult to heal these wounds. Bacterial infection of the skin, connective tissues, muscles, and bones can then occur. These infections can develop into gangrene, and because of the poor blood flow, antibiotics cannot get to the site of the infection easily. Often, the only treatment for this is amputation of the foot or leg. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, this process can be life threatening.
People with diabetes must be fully aware of how to prevent foot problems before they occur, to recognize problems early, and to seek the right treatment when problems do occur. Although treatment for diabetic foot problems has improved, prevention including good control of blood sugar level remains the best way to prevent diabetic complications.
See your health care provider if you have cuts or breaks in the skin, or have an ingrown nail. Also, tell your health care provider if your foot changes color, shape, or just feels different (for example, becomes less sensitive or hurts). Inspect your feet every day, and seek care early if you do get a foot injury. Make sure you get your feet checked at least once a year and more often if you have foot problems.
Diabetes Foot care tips:
- Take care of your diabetes. Work with your health care team to keep your blood glucose in your target range.
- Check your feet every day. Look at your bare feet for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
- Be more active. Plan your physical activity program with your health team.
- Ask your doctor about special shoes that may help prevent diabetic foot pain or infections.
- Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
- Keep your skin soft and smooth. Rub a thin coat of skin lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes.
- If you can see and reach your toenails, trim them when needed. Trim your toenails straight across and file the edges with an emery board or nail file.
- Wear shoes and socks at all times. Never walk barefoot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Check inside your shoes before wearing them. Make sure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold. Wear shoes at the beach or on hot pavement. Don’t put your feet into hot water. Test water before putting your feet in it just as you would before bathing a baby. Never use hot water bottles, heating pads, or electric blankets. You can burn your feet without realizing it.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two (2) or three (3) times a day. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time. Don’t smoke.
Begin taking good care of your feet today! Contact Houston Foot and Ankle. Dr. Donald Stran is a Podiatrist serving the Houston and Friendswood areas. To learn more about the procedures treated at Houston Foot and Ankle or to schedule an appointment please call any of our locations listed below.
Friendswood: (281) 992-0006
Missouri City: (281) 741-3017
Lake Jackson: (979) 297-8500