Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetic patients should make podiatric health a top priority in their lives. Diabetes is a devastating disease that affects multiple sites of the body, including your feet and lower extremities.
Two common systems that are affected in the feet are the Nervous and Vascular. Diabetes can damage the nerves of the body that can lead to burning, tingling and even numbness of the feet. This is called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy may lead to the development of ulcerations or wounds to the feet because cuts, lesions and irritations can go unnoticed due to the diminished sensation to the feet. Wounds to the feet are dangerous and may lead to serious limb and life threatening infections.
Diabetes may also affect the blood flow going to the foot. Diminished blood flow makes even the smallest cuts, sores, or wounds difficult to heal. This can also lead to loss of tissue and even limbs if the progression is severe.
Here are some helpful tips if you are a diabetic:
- Inspection: Perform daily foot checks. This can either be done by having a friend or family member look at all areas of your feet. If you are by yourself, place a large handheld mirror on the floor and check the bottom of the feet this way.
- Moisturize your feet daily to avoid itching and cracking of the skin.
- Shoes: Wear supportive shoes at all times and minimize barefoot walking. Always inspect your shoes prior to putting them on to look for foreign objects that may irritate or cause harm to your feet. Make sure you wear appropriate shoe gear for each season. In the Winter, make sure you wear warm socks and waterproof shoes to prevent frostbite. Your doctor may recommend diabetic shoes if you have certain risk factors.
- Applying Heat: Never use heating pads, electric blankets or blow-dryers to warm your feet. These can create burns to the feet without you noticing. Do not place your feet in hot water without first testing the temperature with your hand.
- Medical: Monitor your blood glucose levels routinely and let your primary care physician know if they get elevated. Let your podiatrist know if you begin to experience any burning, tingling, numbness, or changes in the appearance of your feet. Avoid smoking because this decreases blood flow to your feet. Getting proper daily nutrition and exercising are also part of living a healthier diabetic lifestyle.
- Exams: Make sure you get periodic or routine foot exams by a podiatrist to prevent complications. Having routine care by a podiatrist can prevent and reduce the risk of diabetic foot complications like infections and amputations. Having your foot doctor treat any toenail issues or calluses immediately is highly recommended. Studies have shown that up to 80% of all amputations can be preventable by well-provisioned care.
Following these tips for caring for diabetic feet can end up saving a limb.
FASMA Doctors Performing This Specialty / Service
Silver Spring, MD (International Drive) Silver Spring, MD (MedStar-Leisure World)