Diabetic foot

Diabetic foot

People with diabetes can develop problems with their feet. Minor problems such as small cuts and bruises can get worse and eventually lead to serious complications. Diabetic foot problems mostly occur when there is nerve damage.

How diabetes can affect feet

Diabetes affects blood glucose levels. This causes them to become too high. Over time, this can damage nerves or blood vessels. This is called diabetic neuropathy. Nerve damage in the feet can cause a loss of feeling. People with diabetes might not feel pain, heat or cold in their feet. It also means that foot injuries often go unnoticed.
People can get a cut, sore or blister and not notice it at all until the skin gets damaged and becomes infected. If not treated, this could eventually lead to amputation. Diabetes also affects the blood flow which causes a sore or a cut to heal more slowly. Also the skin changes due to diabetes which causes it to get very dry. The skin on feet may even crack and peel.

Common foot problems with diabetes

Anyone can get foot problems like sores, ulcers or blisters. However, for people with diabetes these common foot problems can lead to serious complications. Common foot problems include:

  • Blisters: these are caused by wearing shoes that do not fit properly. When blisters pop, the skin can become infected.
  • Calluses: consist of the build-up of hard skin. They are caused by improperly fitting shoes or by pressure due to unevenly distribution of weight. Calluses can break down and turn into open sores.
  • Ulcers: an ulcer is a sore or a crack in the skin of the foot that can become infected. It can be caused by shoes or minor cuts.

Preventing diabetic foot problems

Taking proper care of feet can help prevent common foot problems or treat them before they cause serious complications. Good hygiene is crucial. For people with diabetes, it’s important to wash the feet everyday with lukewarm water and check them thoroughly for small cuts or sores. Keeping the skin soft and smooth is also important this can be done by applying a lotion or crème.
Corns and calluses should be smoothed gently and toenails should be trimmed regularly. A pedicurist can help you with that. Furthermore, it’s important to wear shoes and socks at all times and protect your feet from hot and cold.