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Diabetes and your feet

How does Diabetes Affect my feet?

About one in five people with diabetes enters the hospital for foot problems.

Many people with diabetes have mild to severe nerve damage. Nerve damage can cause diminished feeling in the feet. As a result, you may not feel cuts, scratches, and breaks in the skin on your feet. These wounds can lead to unnoticed infection.

Specific Foot Problems: Calluses, Ulcers, Loss of feeling (Neuropathy), Poor Circulation, Amputation.

Calluses:
Calluses occur more often and build up faster on the feet of people with diabetes. Calluses, if not trimmed, get very thick, break down, and turn into ulcers (open sores).

Foot Ulcers:
Ulcers occur most often over the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers on the sides of the foot are usually due to poorly fitting shoes. Neglecting an ulcer can result in infections, which in turn can lead to loss of a limb.

Neuropathy:
Diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy) also can lessen your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Loss of feeling may mean that you might not feel a foot injury.

Poor Circulation
Poor circulation (blood flow) can make your foot less able to fight infection and to heal.

Amputation:
If the above problems are not cared for, amputation of the foot or leg may result.

 

Tell your Doctor

If you notice any of the following problems, talk with your doctor:

  1. Changes in the color of the skin on your feet
  2. Changes in skin temperature
  3. Pain in the legs, either at rest or while walking
  4. Swelling of the foot or ankle
  5. Open sores that are slow to heal
  6. Ingrown or fungus-infected toenails
  7. Corns or calluses that bleed within the skin
  8. Cracks in the skin, especially around the heel

How to prevent foot problems

You can help prevent foot problems by keeping the skin on your feet healthy and intact, and taking immediate steps to care for any irritation that does occur.

Another way to prevent foot problems is to make sure your health care provider checks your feet at least once a year and provides you with a list and explanation of the dos and don'ts of foot care.

Shoes

When you buy shoes, take extra time to buy shoes that properly fit your feet. Poorly fitted shoes are often responsible for the problems that lead to amputation.

Shoe Tips

  1. Buy shoes that fit you in the store. Don't expect tight shoes to stretch.
  2. Shoes made of leather and canvas offer better "breathability" and keep feet drier.
  3. The heel should fit snugly with no slipping, pressure or pinching.
  4. Avoid high heels and shoes with pointed toes.

***Never ignore any foot irritation or injury. At the first sign redness, cracked skin or a change in skin color or temperature, call your physician.

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