Diabetics have a lot on their plate. If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or know someone who has chances are they are overloaded with information. All of which seems important in some way. Well unfortunately we’re not here to lighten the load, but hopefully with this explanation you won’t feel overwhelmed. Foot care for diabetics really is quite simple and common sense when you boil it down.It’s important to note that this article is not meant to stand in place of going to a Brampton Diabetes foot clinic Chiropodist, also known as a foot and ankle specialist, for diagnosis and treatment of any feet problems.
Why do Diabetics need to take special care of their feet?
Good question. The answer stems from two affects of diabetes. One is that diabetics tend to have, or develop, poor circulation to their extremities resulting in a loss sensation on some level. This means that when they do have feet problems they are less likely to feel them. At least to the same extent that someone without diabetes would. Second, diabetics are at risk to nerve damage, especially nerve damage that affects the legs and thus, the feet. This also results in a loss of feeling in the feet.Technically the terms for these two conditions are called diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.
When you have couple this loss of sensation and the tendency for diabetes to make injuries harder to heal you can see it becomes very important to have a foot care routine that ill catch problems before they get out of hand.
Consequences and Common Problems
The most common consequences of these conditions are:
- Athlete’s foot
- Fungal infection of nails
- Dry skin
- Foot ulcers
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar warts
Of course all of these problems can occur without diabetes, but they are more likely to go unnoticed if someone has diabetes and they don’t take care of their feet. Here are the symptoms of these common foot problems.
Athlete’s Foot: Itching, red and cracking feet.
Fungal Nail Infection: Discolored nails, usually yellow-brown. Nails may be especially thick and fall apart.
Calluses: An excessive buildup on skin creating hard and painful layers.
Corn: An excessive buildup of hard skin near a bony area of the foot or between toes.
Blisters: Fluid filled pockets on the skin where the shoe rubs uncomfortably.
Bunions: An awkwardly angled big toe. There can be redness and calluses in the are as well.
Dry Skin: Cracks, itchiness and peeling.
Foot Ulcers: A deep sore in the skin that has become infected. Discoloration, pus and a pungent smell are common.
Hammertoes: An awkwardly angled toe- just not usually the big toe.
Ingrown Toenails: Obvious ingrown nails, redness, swelling, pus or other fluid and infection.
Plantar Warts: Calluses that have tiny black spots in the center.
Daily Foot Care
The best way to treat a problem is to treat it before it’s a problem. We’re talking about prevention here. A daily foot care regimen is best in preventing all of these problems. In addition to following your chiropodist’s advice and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle diabetics should make time to wash and inspect their feet every day. The inspection should be a general check, looking for sores, blisters or any of the other signs mentioned above. If anything unusual is noticed you should go to a doctor or foot clinic for advice and treatment as their may be special considerations that make normal treatments inadequate. Diabetics should also weekly trim their toenails to avoid ingrown toenails as these are very common and fast to grow.
In general you should also take more caution with the footwear you use and always keep your feet covered in socks or slippers- even when at home. Diabetics also benefit from visiting a chiropodist every two to three months for a checkup even if you don’t see any problems.
Orthotics are also something you should consider if you find it is difficult for you to find good fitting footwear. Orthotics are specially designed for your feet and when properly fitted will help you with blood circulation.
Exercising is an important part of keeping a healthy lifestyle and an even more important part of a diabetics plan, but hard impact sports do not help the feet so many look at low-impact aerobics, cycling or watersports.
Finally, a bit of no brainer: quit smoking. If you smoke, apart from all the other health problems that arise out of smoking, the nicotine in cigarettes inhibits circulation by up to 70 percent, making an already bad situation worse.
Diabetes is generally very manageable as long as you educate yourself and follow a healthy balanced lifestyle.