Unfortunately, those with diabetes are more susceptible to foot diseases and related problems. Complications related to Diabetes-Related Foot Disease (DRFD) are often misunderstood and underestimated. In fact, however, many of the problems associated with diabetes first appear on the feet.
Problems related to diabetes that affect the feet include:
- Loss of feeling in the foot
- Nerve damage
- Skin changes
- Foot ulcers
- Poor circulation
Things that may seem like normal, everyday issues can actually be a sign of something more serious. Roughly 86,000 foot amputations occur every year, and over half of these surgeries are due to diabetes-related complications. However, an estimated 50% of these operations could have been avoided with routine foot care.
Signs and symptoms of diabetic feet should not be ignored. Seeking treatment from a Long Island podiatrist can prevent serious, long-term consequences, including irreversible nerve damage and even amputation.
Taking care to monitor potential complications can decrease your risk of developing serious foot problems as a result of your diabetes. Catching problems early can be the difference between keeping your feet or having to undergo and amputation. Regular visits with a foot care specialist and foot screenings are essential for those with diabetes.
Diabetic Feet: Neuropathy
When you experience symptoms that likely originate from the nerves, such as tingling, pain, or loss of feeling, you need to speak with a podiatrist. Neuropathy is extremely common in those with diabetes. However, a comprehensive foot exam can prevent or delay many of these problems.
Nerve damage may result in an inability to feel your feet. This includes feelings associated with temperate or pain. In fact, you may injure your foot without even realizing it in some situations. Allowing an injury to go untreated is much more likely to lead to an infection. When you suspect you have problems feeling your toes and feet, it is important to check them daily to ensure that you do not have any injuries. You should also avoid very cold temperatures and hot surfaces.
Calluses and Foot Ulcers
Those with diabetes often end up with more calluses than the average person due to high-pressure areas in the foot. If these calluses are not addressed properly, then they can turn into ulcers. Ulcers are open sores that can easily become infected if not treated appropriately.
Ulcers most often appear at the ball of the foot or on or around the large toe. Improper footwear is often to blame. Even though an ulcer may not hurt (particularly if you also deal with diabetic nerve damage), it is important to see a professional to address any potential issues with bacteria growth and infection.
Tips for Those Dealing with Diabetic Feet
Cold weather can be especially difficult on those who have diabetic feet. Moisture and dampness can lead to bacteria and growth and infections. While everyone should take care to ensure that their feet stay dry, it is especially important for those with diabetes because higher glucose levels make individuals more susceptible to infection.
Dry, itchy skin can also be the result of regularly high glucose levels. The body loses fluid at a faster rate when glucose levels are elevated, which, in turn, dries out the skin. Nerve damage can also result in dry skin because the nerves no longer receive the message that they should sweat. Extremely dry skin can be dangerous as it can cause skin loss, which increases your risk of bacteria growth and infection. Be sure to moisturize regularly, but avoid moisture buildup between the toes.
Those with frequent calluses can use a pumice stone daily to cut down on callus buildup. Be sure to apply lotion after using the pumice stone.
Wearing shoes and socks that fit well can also cut down on the potential for blisters and other sores that can become infected. They can also decrease the occurrence of injury as well.
Even if a callus, cut, or blister seems minor, it can become a big deal. See your doctor early on to avoid much more painful complications.