Heights Picture of the Week- Nov. 13
It is important to take good care of your feet when you have diabetes. This picture from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how diabetes can affect your feet.
How can diabetes harm my feet?
Foot problems are common in people with diabetes. One of the foot problems that affect people with diabetes over time is nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy. This nerve damage can cause tingling, pain and make people lose feeling in their feet.
When a person with diabetes loses feeling in their feet, they might not notice a cut or blister on their feet. Leaving these wounds untreated can cause them to become infected. Having diabetes can also lower the amount of blood flowing to your feet. When too little blood flows to your legs and feet, it makes it harder for sores or cuts that have become infected to heal. In some cases these infections do not heal and can lead to ulcers and/or gangrene, which is when the infected area around the sore or cut begins to die.
If you have gangrene or a foot ulcer that is not getting better with treatment, you may need surgery to cut off the infected area. This is called an amputation. Your doctor might need to cut off your toe, foot or even part of your leg to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of your body. Amputations were very common when the treatment options for diabetes were few. Nowadays, with more treatments available, amputations are less common, but still happen in persons with poorly controlled diabetes.
What can I do to keep my feet healthy?
The most important step to keep your feet healthy is to manage your diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels under control. As part of your diabetes care you should get a foot check at every doctor’s visit. You can also keep your feet healthy by making sure to take care of your feet every day if you are diabetic. This is includes:
- • Washing your feet every day
- • Smooth corns and calluses gently
- • Cut your toenails straight across
- • Wear shoes and socks at all times
- • Protect your feet from hot and cold temperatures
Also look out for any foot problems like:
- • cuts, sores, or red spots
- • swelling or blisters
- • ingrown toenails
- • corns or calluses
- • warts on the bottom of your feet
- • athlete’s foot • warm spots
When should I see my doctor about foot problems?
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- • a cut, blister, or bruise on your foot that does not start to heal after a few days
- • skin on your foot that becomes red, warm, or painful, which can be a sign of a possible infection
- • a callus with dried blood inside of it, which can be the first sign of a wound under the callus
- • a foot infection that becomes black and smelly, which might be the beginning of gangrene
Ask your doctor to refer you to a podiatrist or foot doctor, if needed.
To find more information about diabetic neuropathy on Get Healthy Heights click here.
Diabetes and Foot Problems. (2017). National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Diabetes and You: Healthy Feet Matter. (2014). National Institutes of Health & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Diabetes Education Program.