Foot problems are almost entirely preventable if you take adequate care of your feet and have proper medical attention. On the other hand, if you don’t take care of your feet, you could develop gangrene or even lose a limb.
There are many reasons why a diabetic develops foot problems:
- High blood sugar levels may damage the nerves serving the feet, which in turn may cause sensation to be impaired; the diabetic may not be conscious of injuries or infections in the foot because he or she does not experience any pain.
- The blood vessels could be affected in people who have had diabetes for a long time, causing reduced circulation such as pain in the calves or feet when walking, and eventually even when the person is at rest. As the healing of injuries requires a good blood supply, impaired circulation in the feet can also result in wounds not healing properly.
- When blood sugar levels are higher than normal, white blood cells do not perform effectively; therefore, infections occur more often than in healthy people.
Probably the most important way to prevent foot problems is to inspect your feet every day, with a mirror if necessary; look specifically for any sign of injuries or infections. Wash your feet in warm water and carefully dry them with a soft towel, particularly between the toes. If your skin is dry, you can apply a mild moisturiser.
Avoid severe heat such as very hot baths, hot water bottles and electric heaters and never walk barefoot on any rough or hot surfaces. Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes and always check your shoes and socks for thorns or stones that might damage your feet.
Trim your toenails correctly, and have a professional deal with any corns or callouses to reduce the risk of damage to the skin and subsequent infection.
Don’t smoke, as it damages circulation, and have your health care professional examine your feet regularly to check for any abnormality.
Get prompt medical attention if you notice any of the following:
- That your toe, any part or all of your foot changes colour. This could indicate a severe loss of circulation
- Any cuts, injuries or infections
- Any swelling of your foot or leg
- An unpleasant smell emanating from your foot
- Pain or throbbing discomfort in your foot.
Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to discuss diabetes or know more about foot care. Call us on 0861 872 862 or email us at
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