If you have had diabetes for some time now, you are at an increased risk of having diabetic foot. Diabetes foot problems have been known to be one of the most common cause of hospitalisation in diabetics.
But what has diabetes to do with your foot?
Over time, high blood sugar levels in diabetics cause damage to the nerves which help us to perceive sensations such as touch, pain, temperature and pressure. This is called diabetic neuropathy. So, unlike normal people, chronic diabetics may be unable to sense pain when they have an injury in the foot. These injuries get unnoticed and then become infected and ulcerate over time. Plus, circulation is also a problem in diabetics. Impaired circulation also impairs healing. In some diabetics, the wounds do not heal at all.
This is a serious problem because if not addressed on time, diabetic foot problems may lead to serious complications like gangrene due to which you may have to lose your limbs(amputation).
Don’t get scared already. This can be prevented. All you need is to give some extra time and attention to your feet. Here are the top tips to prevent diabetic foot problems:
Do not walk barefoot:
- If you walk barefoot, there are greater chances for your foot getting injured by things lying in your path, such as pebbles, stones, sharp objects etc.
- If you are a diabetic, you may never know that you have a bruise or a cut (unless of course you check your feet).
- So, always wear a good pair of shoes and socks to protect your feet from any kind of external injuries.
Keep your feet neat:
- Allot a specific time for cleaning your foot daily. Wash your feet with warm water and mild soap. Make sure you check the temperature of the water before you start cleaning.
- Do not soak your legs for too long as it can cause dryness an make your foot skin susceptible to injury. After cleaning thoroughly, pat your feet dry.
- Apply lotion to your feet to keep them well moisturised. But avoid putting too much lotion in between your toes. Excess moisture in these areas can increase the risk of skin infection and breakdown.
Have a regular foot check routine:
- You must inspect your foot multiple times a day. Check for cuts, blisters and sores, corns, calluses, swellings and even changes in skin color.
- Use a hand mirror to check the bottom of your foot. If you find it difficult to bend down for foot inspection, ask help from somebody.
- Do not forget to look in the areas between the toes as these areas are more prone to infection.
Take good care of your toe nails:
- Nails should always be trim and should not have any sharp edges. The nails should be cut and filed with a good quality nail trimmer and filer.
- Do not ever use knives or razors to cut your nails as there is a serious risk of injury. Do not cut the cuticles (the dead skin present at the base of the fingernail or toenail).
Wear well-fitting shoes and socks:
- Shoes and socks prevent foot trauma and also protect the foot from extreme temperatures.
- When you buy your shoe, make sure that it fits well, neither too tight, nor too loose.
- Always check the shoes before wearing them, check of there are any holes or sharp edges.
- Use a good fitting, light colored socks, so that even if you have any oozing of pus or blood, it would be clearly visible.
- Smoking also affects circulation. It would further complicate the effects of diabetes.
- So, if you are a diabetic, you should learn strategies to quit smoking.
Keep your foot moving:
- Moving your ankle and toes frequently ensures that your foot circulation is maintained.
- Ankle toe movements are perhaps the easiest exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime.
Avoid cross legged sitting for a long time:
- Sitting cross-legged decreases the blood flow to your foot. So, do not sit cross-legged for a long time.
Recognise the signs:
- All diabetics must know the signs of diabetic foot and signs that indicate injury to the skin and soft tissue of the foot.
- Consult your doctor if you notice these changes- skin discoloration and swelling, wounds and sores that have not healed over a long time, foul smell coming from a blister, pain and tingling in feet, no sweating in the feet- all these may indicate that you have diabetic foot.