When you have diabetes, there’s a lot to think about. From managing your blood sugar and making healthy food choices to finding time to stay active and visiting the doctor, your condition takes time and effort to manage. With all the concerns, your feet may be the last thing you think about, but daily foot care is the best way to prevent complications. Learn more about the special considerations that come with diabetes & foot care with this blog, and your tootsies will thank you.
Unfortunately, many people who have been diagnosed with diabetes experience foot problems. This common ailment can develop over the years, as high blood sugar can damage the feet’s nerves and blood vessels. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy, and it causes numbness, tingling, and pain in your extremities, such as your feet and toes.
This disorder impacts up to 70% of diabetics, which makes it such a concern because if you can’t feel pain, you may not know there’s a problem with your feet. There’s good news, though. Early detection and management by an experienced podiatrist, such as Dr. Schoene or Dr. Bever, can help prevent it from becoming debilitating.
Wounds and infections are the most common types of diabetic foot conditions. Even a small cut, blister, or ulcer on your foot can get infected because of a loss of blood flow to the area. The sore may also take longer to heal than it would if the disease didn’t damage your blood vessels. Sometimes, untreated wounds may develop into gangrene. With this ailment, the muscle, skin, and other tissues of the feet start to die.
If gangrene doesn’t respond to treatments such as antibiotics, wound care, and shoe changes, then amputating the limb or surgically removing the infected areas may be your doctor’s only course of action. We understand this type of surgery is quite undesirable. However, cutting off a damaged toe or foot could save your life by stopping the infection from spreading to other areas of your body. But don’t worry. There’s a lot your healthcare provider can do to prevent the health of your feet from becoming a serious problem.
Of course, the best way to protect your feet is by consistently maintaining proper blood sugar levels. This healthy habit helps prevent nerve and blood vessel damage — or at least stops it from escalating. Keeping your skin healthy is also crucial, so here are a few foot care tips for people with diabetes:
By checking your feet daily, you’ll spot any potential problems before they get worse. Whether you look them over in the evening when you take off your shoes or every morning after your shower, remember to check between your toes and use a mirror to see the bottom of your feet. Keep your eye peeled for issues such as the following:
Wash your feet in warm water every day, too. Make sure the water isn’t too hot. You’re aiming for between 90 and 95 degrees. Don’t soak your feet, either. Simply wash them with soap, and dry them thoroughly. Dr. Schoene also recommends applying lotion to the top and bottom of your feet, but not between the toes, as added moisture in this area can lead to infection.
Always wear shoes and socks. While going barefoot can be fun, stepping on something and hurting your feet is too easy, even indoors. Diabetic neuropathy can prevent you from feeling any pain, and you may not know that you have a shard of glass in your heel, for example.
We can’t express enough the importance of properly fitting shoes. When you’re trying on a new pair, go shopping at the end of the day when your feet tend to swell. You’ll also want to break them in slowly. Keep them on for an hour or two a day until they feel comfortable. Always wear clean, lightly padded socks or stockings to prevent blisters.
Don’t try to remove any corns or calluses at home. You want to avoid over-the-counter products designed to remove them because they can burn your skin. Instead, talk with your foot doctor at your next appointment. Dr. Schoene or Dr. Bever will develop a treatment plan that aligns with your condition so these patches don’t become ulcers.
Improving blood flow is one of the best ways to ensure healthy feet. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this goal. Start by putting your feet up when you’re sitting and wiggling your toes. Then, flex and point your ankles. Do this for a few minutes, several times throughout the day, and avoid wearing tight socks or elastic stockings. Feet-friendly activities, such as walking, dancing, riding a bike, yoga, or swimming, can also help increase blood flow.
Dr. Lisa M. Schoene began practicing podiatric medicine more than 30 years ago. Since then, her practice has grown into an outstanding holistic center with locations in both Chicago and Gurnee. In addition to traditional podiatric care, she also takes advantage of acupuncture techniques, chiropractic care, and homeopathic medications that are proven to help improve foot health, even for diabetics, because every system in the body affects your feet. After a complete examination, Dr. Schoene or Dr. Bever will discuss your treatment options, and together you’ll decide on the right of action for you.
Most diabetics can prevent serious foot complications with the proper care — at home and your doctor’s office. Don’t miss a single appointment because even minor problems such as aches and pains can affect your quality of life, and these foot issues are treatable. Contact us today and learn more about the benefits of diabetic foot care.