Diabetic toes and feet

Diabetic toes and feet

For people with diabetes in particular, it is important to look after their feet. This is because diabetes causes a high blood glucose level which leads to complications. These complications include diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Neuropathy causes a loss of feeling in legs and feet. This can mean that small cuts and sores on the feet go unnoticed. If not treated, these cuts and sores can lead to a serious infection. Peripheral vascular disease means that the blood circulation is low. This reduces the blood supply to feet causing foot injuries not to heal well.

Foot problems caused by diabetes

There are a number of foot problems that are caused by diabetes. The most common are:

  • Ulcers: wounds that are not treated or do not heal well can become infected
  • Infections: a part from skin infections due to sores or wounds, toenails can also become infected leading to discoloration, thickened and brittle nails.
  • Gangrene: when there is a complete loss of circulation in feet and toes, tissue can die off.
  • Dry skin: diabetes also causes the bacterial flora of the skin the change, leading to dry skin. This type of skin can crack easily.
  • Amputation: when infections or wounds are not taken care of, this may lead to amputation of feet or legs.

Foot care tips for people with diabetes

Taking care of the feet is especially important for people with diabetes. Proper care will prevent problems from getting worse. These tips include:

  • Keeping feet clean by washing them every day with lukewarm water.
  • Checking feet every day for small cuts and sores.
  • Wearing well fitting shoes and socks.
  • Avoid walking barefoot, especially on hot surfaces.
  • Cutting or filing toenails regularly.
  • Getting corns treated by a pedicure.
  • Treating ulcers immediately.

In the case of swelling or discoloration of the foot, it is advised to go to a doctor as soon as possible.