People with diabetes need to take extra care of their feet because they are at a higher risk of developing foot problems and complications. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood circulation (peripheral arterial disease), which can affect the health of the feet. Here are some reasons why foot care is crucial for individuals with diabetes:
- Nerve damage: Diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, resulting in reduced sensation in the feet. This means that injuries or wounds may go unnoticed, leading to delayed treatment and potential complications.
- Reduced blood circulation: Diabetes can also affect blood flow to the feet, impairing the body’s ability to heal wounds and fight infections. Poor circulation can make foot problems worse and increase the risk of developing ulcers or gangrene.
- Increased risk of infections: Due to reduced sensation and impaired healing, individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to infections. Even minor cuts, blisters, or sores can become infected and develop into serious complications if not properly treated.
- Diabetic foot ulcers: Ulcers are open wounds that can occur on the feet. They are commonly found on pressure points, such as the bottom of the feet or the sides of the big toes. Diabetic foot ulcers are slow to heal and have a higher risk of infection, making them a significant concern for people with diabetes.
- Risk of amputation: In severe cases, uncontrolled foot problems and infections can lead to tissue death (gangrene) and may require amputation to prevent the spread of infection. Proper foot care is crucial in minimizing the risk of amputation.
To take good care of their feet, individuals with diabetes are advised to follow these guidelines:
- Inspect the feet daily for any cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or other abnormalities.
- Keep the feet clean and dry, washing them with lukewarm water and mild soap.
- Moisturize the feet to prevent dry skin, but avoid applying lotion between the toes.
- Trim toenails straight across and avoid cutting them too short.
- Wear well-fitting shoes and socks that provide proper support and cushioning.
- Protect the feet from extreme temperatures and avoid walking barefoot.
- Avoid smoking, as it can further reduce circulation and impair wound healing.
- Regularly visit a healthcare professional or a podiatrist for foot check-ups.
It’s essential for individuals with diabetes to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a personalized foot care routine and address any concerns promptly. Early intervention and proper foot care can help prevent complications and maintain overall foot health.