For people living with diabetes, even the slightest of blisters, corns, calluses, sting bites and sores would be hard to heal and may lead to a foot infection, skin ulcer etc. And if left untreated, it may increase the risk of amputation.
Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to neuropathy which damages nerves and a diabetic can lose sensation in the feet owing to poor blood circulation, ultimately leading to severe infections.
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Diabetic neuropathy affects about 70% of people with diabetes and in severe cases, it can lead to foot infections. This happens as diabetic patients cannot feel the sensation in feet and tend to ignore cuts, sores or pain in the feet. Untreated infections can lead to gangrene – death of body tissues and in most cases, the patient would require amputation of the feet.
Neuropathy is the root cause of dry skin in diabetics, as the damaged nerve in the feet doesn’t receive a signal from the brain to sweat. Dry feet easily crack and make it easy for the germs to enter the body. Nerve damage may change the shape of the feet which can make it difficult to walk with shoes that were previously fine. The friction leads to calluses and bunions which can tear down and expose the feet to germs. Also Read: 4 Types of Diabetic Neuropathy: Prevention & Treatment
Diabetologists suggest that diabetic patients should safeguard their feet by checking their foot regularly, using comfortable shoes and go for periodic foot examinations. Controlling diabetes and leading a healthier lifestyle will assist to keep your feet healthy:
Regular foot examination and check-ups
Self-monitoring blood sugar periodically
Eating a diet rich in dietary fibre and complex carbs
Regular workout helps in maintaining weight and prevent a blood sugar spike
To avert serious foot problems, follow the right foot care regimen and practice them regularly.
Examine Your Feet
Thoroughly check your feet and toes, top, sides, soles, heels and area in between the toes. Use a mirror or seek help if you are unable to inspect your own feet. Check for blisters, sores, ingrown and toenails. Observe the temperature of your feet whether it is hot or cold and any skin colour change pale, red or blue. Consult your health care provider immediately if you find any sores, cut, blisters, redness or bruises or any unusual pain.
Clean Your Feet
Regularly clean and wash your feet with warm water and mild soap. Avoid using harsh soap and hot water as it may damage sensitive skin. Check the water temperature with your hand as diabetic neuropathy patients may not have the sensation to feel water temperature.
Completely Dry Your Feet
Dry your feet gently with a towel, between the toes as well, as moist feet increase the risk of infection.
Moisturize the skin regularly to prevent dry and rough skin issues. Do not apply moisturizer between the toes.
Choose The Right Shoes
Choose shoes that are comfortable and supportive that fit well and make sure socks without seams are dry to guard you against any damage. Prefer comfortable shoes which are either made of leather or natural fibers. Avoid high heels, flip -flop and going barefoot even at home.
After cleaning your feet, when your nails are soft try trimming your toenails. Cut straight across but not in a curved manner to prevent ingrown toenails.
Do not cut toenails too short or cut deep into corners.
Seek the help of podiatrist if you cannot trim toenails by yourself.
Routine Foot Care Habits
Never treat even a minor injury with an antiseptic solution as it can burn your skin without your doctor’s advice.
Avoid heating pad, hot water bottle on your feet, as your skin is very sensitive and may get bruised. Shield your feet from hot and cold substances and temperature.
Never try to remove corns, calluses, warts or any other foot lesion yourself, seek the help of a podiatrist. Also Read: Be 'Smart' With New Technology For Diabetic Foot Monitoring