How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet? How To Take Care?
Diabetes is a condition that is caused due to lack of insulin in the body to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas to regulate glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes can be due to the pancreas not producing sufficient insulin to control blood sugar or in some cases it may not produce any insulin at all. This condition is referred to as Type 1 Diabetes.
When the pancreas produces sufficient insulin but the cells in the body do not respond to insulin, the sugar level in the blood rises and leads to a condition that is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes.
People with diabetes should take extra care of their feet. When sugar levels in the blood are not under control for a long period of time, it can affect the feet and cause further complications.
How does diabetes affect the feet?
Diabetes can lead to thickening of the arteries. When the arteries thicken the passage through which the blood flows becomes partially blocked. The blockage disrupts the proper flow of blood through the arteries.
When the arteries that supply blood to the feet are blocked, the feet do not get sufficient amount of blood supply to keep the feet healthy.
In such a case, the feet will not be able to heal from wounds, minor injuries, blisters and cracks.
When there is a crack in the skin, germs can enter through these cracks and cause infections. If the infections are left untreated, it can lead to severe ulceration. In some cases, the leg will have to be amputated to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
Diabetic people can also develop diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which there is a loss of feeling in the feet. This loss of feeling in the feet is due to the damage to the nerves that occurs when sugar levels in the blood are not under control for over a period.
Due to this, a diabetic person cannot feel any pain when they are injured in the foot area and may leave it untreated till they notice that they have been hurt.
During the time gap between getting injured, and realizing they have been injured and treating the injury germs can enter and start infecting the foot.
When the injury is left untreated, infection sets in through the injured area and can spread to other parts of the feet and take a long time to heal. In extreme cases, the feet may have to be amputated to prevent infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
People with diabetes must take proper care of their feet and check their feet regularly for minor cuts, cracks, and bruises.
Diabetes can also cause bones to weaken and change the way a person walks. When this happens the pressure distribution on the foot changes and there is more pressure exerted on certain areas of the foot.
Change in foot pressure can also result in calluses. Calluses are caused by thickening of the skin under the feet due to unequal weight distribution. Change in foot pressure can also lead to the development of corns. Corns are thickenings of the skin near a bony area of a toe or between toes.
Diabetic Foot Care
- trim nails regularly to prevent ingrown toenails and thickening of the nails
- treat cuts and bruises immediately to prevent infection
- keep your feet clean and dry
- do not walk barefoot
- use a mirror to check for cracks, blisters or cuts and treat immediately
- keep your feet hydrated, use foot creams that are specially made for diabetics
- wear comfortable footwear, the footwear should not be very tight
- wear cotton socks that will absorb any sweat from the feet and keep the feet dry
- wear footwear specially made for diabetics if you have a foot problem
- wear shoes with laces or Velcro or buckles that are adjustable
- wear shoes made of suede, leather or canvas
- do not wear shoes made of plastic
- do not wear shoes with pointed or open toes
- check your feet with a doctor every once a year
- do not treat ingrown toenails, calluses or corns by yourself, consult a podiatrist.
- do not use the antiseptic solution on your wound, this will irritate and further bruise the skin
- do not use a hot or cold pack on your feet as this will bruise the skin
The best way to prevent foot problems is to keep sugar levels under control by exercising regularly and by following a healthy diet.