Diabetic Patient Tips: Avoiding the Risks Associated with Diabetes
What is the greatest risk for diabetics? Amputation. Thousands of diabetics face amputation every year. Foot infections are the most common reasons for amputation, along with gangrene and skin sores. Foot sores (ulcers) can take months or years to heal because diabetics suffer from reduced blood flow to the feet. A diabetic requires 20 times more energy to heal a foot wound than a healthy person who is not diabetic.
Major Causes of Foot Problems
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Nerve damage causes loss of sensation, and sensation is a normal protection for avoiding injury. Unfortunately, injuries can lead to infections, which can rapidly turn into gangrene and then require amputation. Nerve damage also causes dry skin, arch collapse and toe deformities. Daily foot care and regular visits with you podiatrist can help you prevent infections and skin ulcers.
- Loss of blood circulation. Poor circulation prolongs healing and makes you vulnerable for infections, gangrene and amputation.
Take Care of Your Feet Every Day
Our daily tips for protecting your feet include:
Examine your feet daily
- Using your eyes and hands
- Checking between your toes
- Using a mirror to look at the bottom of your feet
- Looking for danger signs such as swelling (especially new, increased swelling involving one foot), redness (possible sign of a pressure ulcer or infection), blisters (sign of rubbing a pressure sore), cuts or scratches or bleeding (vulnerability for infection), nail problems, skin breaking down and drainage between the toes
Examine your shoes daily
Using your hands to check the insides of your shoes, look for irregularities (rough areas and seams) and foreign objects (stones and tacks).
- Wash your feet daily
- Use lukewarm water and avoid water that is too hot or cold
- Dry off your feet after washing, especially between the toes
- Use a lubricant on dry skin
- Use lambs wool (not cotton) between the toes to keep these areas dry
Shoes and socks
- Make sure shoes and socks aren’t too tight
- Ensure extra room at the end of the toe and wear shoes made of material that can breathe
- Remove new shoes after 5 – 10 minutes to check for redness and if there is redness, take off the shoes and wear a different pair
- Rotate your shoes
- Ask your podiatrist about therapeutic footwear
- See your podiatrist regularly
- Ask your primary care doctor to check your feet on every visit
- If you observe danger signs, check with your doctor about them
Avoid the following dangerous actions
- Don’t walk barefoot (sharp objects can injure your feet)
- Don’t apply a heating pad to the feet
- Don’t soak your feet in hot water
- Don’t use chemicals or sharp instruments to trim callouses
- Don’t cut toenails into the corners — cut them straight across
- Don’t smoke because smoking reduces blood circulation
If you have diabetes, schedule a visit with Dr. Sciortino and get medical help with your feet. Please call us to set up an appointment.