If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to do all you can to manage your disease. Diabetes increases your risks of many serious medical problems, including problems that affect your feet.
In fact, about a third of those diagnosed with diabetes develop a foot ulcer because of their disease, and about half of those ulcers become infected.
Diabetic foot ulcers are a leading cause of foot and lower leg amputations, clearly demonstrating why foot care is so important if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.
At Gelbmann Podiatry, our podiatrists, David Gelbmann, DPM, and Ramsha Tanwir, DPM, offer comprehensive diabetic foot care, helping patients reduce their risks of foot infections and other serious problems. Here’s what you can do to make sure your feet stay as healthy as possible.
Diabetes and your feet
Knowing how diabetes affects your feet can help you spot problems early and, ideally, avoid those problems in the first place. Most diabetes-related foot problems are related to nerve and circulation damage caused by the disease.
Researchers know diabetes is a major cause of peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in the feet, lower legs, and sometimes the hands. High glucose levels can damage these nerves, causing numbness or a loss of sensation.
That means it’s harder for you to feel when you have a tiny cut or sore on your foot, so you might not treat those problems as early as you should to avoid infection. At the same time, diabetes interferes with circulation, which means if you do have a sore or an infection, it can make healing a lot more difficult.
How to protect your feet
Once you understand your potential diabetes-related risks, these three steps can help you decrease those risks and avoid serious problems.
Perform at-home care and inspections
Inspect your feet every day for nicks, cuts, corns, calluses, and other problems. Even something as minor as a blister can wind up developing into a serious infection if you have diabetes.
Wash your feet each day with lukewarm water. Be gentle — don’t scrub or use harsh or exfoliating cleansers. Carefully dry your feet afterward and apply a good moisturizer to keep your skin supple.
When it’s time to trim your nails, trim straight across. Don’t trim too short, you avoid ingrown toenails (and possible infections).
Invest in good footwear
Ill-fitting footwear isn’t just uncomfortable. Shoes that are too large, too small, or poorly fitted can wind up rubbing your skin, causing blisters or corns that can get infected. If you have numbness in your feet, ill-fitting shoes make it more likely that you’ll trip and fall.
Many diabetics benefit from custom orthopedics designed and crafted specifically for their unique foot shape. These special inserts or shoes cushion and support your feet where they need it to decrease the risk of blisters and other problems.
Special diabetic socks (or compression hosiery) can help, too, by promoting circulation in the area.
See your podiatrist regularly
If you have diabetes, your foot health is always at risk, even if you don’t have symptoms now. Seeing Dr. Gelbmann or Dr. Tanwir regularly ensures your feet get the care they need — not only to treat any existing issues, but to help prevent problems from occurring.
Plus, when you visit our office on a regular basis, we can give you advice and guidance on what you can do at home to keep your feet healthy. That includes special techniques for nail-trimming and other tasks so you can play a more active, effective role in managing your health.
Good foot health is essential for your overall well-being. If you have diabetes, a little extra care can go a long way toward preventing major problems. To learn more about diabetic foot care, call us or book an appointment online today. We have offices in Near Southside and West Town, Chicago.