If you or your loved one is suffering from diabetes, then you must have come across the term ‘diabetic foot care. However, very few of us truly understand its importance.
You must be wondering, what is the correlation between diabetes and feet health? What are the symptoms of a diabetic foot and how can we care for our feet correctly to avoid any serious issues?
Let’s first talk about diabetes and its complications.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose level in your body is very high.
Insulin, a hormone in our body, helps the glucose from the food we eat to get absorbed into our cells. This is then used as energy. However, if the body is unable to produce or use insulin, the blood glucose stays in our body and does not get used by the cells, resulting in high blood glucose levels.
As you may be aware, there are two types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body either does not produce enough insulin or cannot use it. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
Complications in Diabetes
Many organs are affected in diabetes, including the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and feet. Diabetes management and blood sugar control can help you avoid health problems connected with the disease.
It is important to know how diabetes can affect the foot.
Diabetes can result in two issues that affect your feet:
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetic neuropathy: Diabetes causes the nerves in your body to get damaged. This damage most commonly occurs in the legs and feet.
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms include discomfort and numbness in the legs and feet to problems with your digestive system, urinary, blood vessel, and heart.
If you don’t have any sensation in your legs or feet, you won’t feel any pain, cuts, or soreness. A life without pain sounds terrific, but it comes with its challenges. A small cut or wound can go unnoticed until considerable damage is done, at which point, treating it will take more time and effort.
Peripheral Vascular Disease: Diabetes can cause changes to blood vessels, thus affecting smooth blood circulation.
In diabetics, poor blood flow is the main reason why cuts and wounds heal very slowly, increasing the probability of the need for an amputation.
Let’s have a look at how to look after your feet if you have diabetes.
Why Is Diabetic Foot Care Important?
Foot care for diabetes is essential. A common symptom of diabetes is foot problems. As previously stated, there are two ways in which the foot can be affected: nerve injury and poor blood circulation in the legs. First, foot problems can be prevented by taking good care of one’s feet and leading a healthy lifestyle. Secondly, all people with diabetes should get their feet examined by a doctor or podiatrist at least once a year.
Moving forward, let’s look at some of the ways in which people with diabetes can improve the blood circulation in their legs.
We recommend following these recommendations for diabetic foot care:
- To maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables.
- Check your blood sugar levels every day.
- Light exercises daily can help boost blood circulation in the legs.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers are more susceptible to heart attacks and poor circulation than non-smokers.
- Check in with your doctor regularly as prevention is better than cure.
In addition to these, diabetic foot care tips mentioned below can assist with the optimal management of peripheral edema and diabetic neuropathy.
Daily diabetic foot care
- Wash your feet
Maintain a healthy standard of hygiene. Every day, wash your feet with lukewarm water and gentle soap. Always check the water temperature with your hands first, as diabetes can make it challenging to sense temperature with your feet.
- Dry your feet
Make sure to dry your feet by patting them with a towel thoroughly. Infections may develop in damp conditions. Also, remember to dry up between your toes.
- Examine your feet to keep up with diabetic foot care
It is perhaps the most crucial foot care tip for diabetes, as poor blood circulation leads to slower healing. Also, people with diabetes may not feel anything in their feet due to nerve damage. That is why a regular physical examination is a must to check for blisters, sores and cuts to avoid any further complications.
Examine the tops, sides, soles, heels, and the area in between the toes of your foot and toes. Contact your doctor if you find any changes in your feet.
- Moisturize the feet
Use lotion or oil if the foot skin is rough or dry. Avoid using lotion between your toes.
- Choose a Correct Shoe
Wear comfortable shoes, preferably walking shoes that provide good support to the heels and sole of the feet.
There are a few things you should avoid if you want to keep your feet healthy.
- Avoid going out barefoot.
- Avoid using a heating pad, hot water bag on your feet.
- Avoid wearing open-toe shoes.
- Avoid self-medicating for any cuts or blisters. Never use sharp razor blades on your feet, as you might unknowingly cut yourself due to low sensation.
Wearing Diabetic Compression Stockings can help.
Compression stockings may be recommended by your doctor in addition to following diabetic foot care tips at home. So, let’s take a closer look at the usage of diabetic compression stockings.
Compression socks and stockings with graduated compression can assist patients with venous insufficiency and help reduce and manage edema/swelling.
Diabetic socks must have the right compression, size, fabric, and construction to be effective.
Your doctor will perform the necessary tests to evaluate whether compression therapy is a safe treatment choice for you. If you experience any pain while wearing a diabetic compression stocking, avoid wearing it and contact your doctor immediately.
For diabetic foot care, compression stockings are helpful. So, keeping that in mind, diabetic socks are made in a way that they protect the patient’s feet while reducing the likelihood of an infection.
Things to Remember
Diabetes and foot care go hand in hand. Foot issues may be prevented if you take appropriate care of your feet, follow important foot care tips in diabetes, and act quickly if you notice a problem. Request the doctor to check your feet regularly for any signs of nerve damage or poor circulation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What problems do diabetics have with their feet?
Diabetes can cause nerve damage, commonly known as diabetic neuropathy, which can cause tingling, discomfort, and loss of sensation in your feet over time. For example, you may not notice a stone in your sock or a blister on your foot if you lose feeling in your feet, which can lead to wounds and sores.
Should diabetics wear socks to bed?
Yes, people with diabetes can wear medical compression socks to bed if their doctor recommends it, as they are made to provide maximum comfort and reduce the risk of infection.