Diabetes can affect the feet in several ways and can lead to serious complications. Diabetic’s may find that the blood circulation to the feet and lower legs deteriorates leading to colour changes in the skin, a reduction in ability to fight infection and poor healing if the skin is broken. Sometimes there is a loss of sensation in the feet, often starting in the toes, known as peripheral neuropathy. Such changes can occur very gradually but if unnoticed can lead to poor wound healing and even ulceration in the feet.
When the nerves in the feet are affected, other changes may follow. The toes may start to claw and the bones in the feet are more susceptible to fracture. Specific tests to detect the early sign of such changes in the circulation and sensation of the feet are carried out by your podiatrist. At the Abbots Langley Foot Clinic we recommend diabetics have this test at least once a year.
Diabetics can take simple daily steps to prevent such complications:
- Any wound, however small should be washed and dressed with a sterile dressing.
- Footwear should be well fitted. Remember, if sensation in the feet is lost you may be unaware that shoes are not fitting properly leading to blistering.
- If you do develop corns and calluses on the feet, they need professional removal by a Podiatrist. Do not be tempted to self treat or use corn plasters as these often contain strong caustic medication which could make the condition far worse.
- Nails should be cut straight across and gently filed. If you are prone to ingrown nails you should consult a Podiatrist who can deal with this unpleasant condition painlessly.
- Check your feet every day. Look for colour changes or damage to the skin. Consult your Podiatrist if any skin wound doesn’t seem to be healing.
Remember, it is possible to prevent or delay changes affecting your feet if you follow medical advice and keep your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels within the target range set by your doctor. Your chances of doing this will be increased if you don’t smoke.
You should consult your Podiatrist immediately if you notice any of the following in your feet:
- The skin changes colour, becoming redder, bluer, paler, or blacker over part or all of the foot.
- There is new swelling of the feet or blistering.
- There is a break in the skin or discharge.