If you or a loved one is managing diabetes care, there are several foot conditions you should monitor. People with diabetes can develop foot problems including neuropathy or ulcers – and even ordinary foot problems like dry skin or calluses can worsen and lead to serious complications. We discuss them in more detail below.
Foot problems are most often caused by nerve damage, or neuropathy, which can create a tingling, stinging, or burning pain or weakness in the foot. Neuropathy can cause loss of feeling, leading to an injury you can’t feel, like a blister that gets infected, but you’re not even aware the blister is there. Neuropathy may create poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes, which may cause additional foot problems.
Also, diabetes can cause changes in the skin of your foot. Your feet may become very dry, with skin that cracks and peels because the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your feet no longer work. You can treat this by washing and drying your feet, then sealing in the moisture with a thick coat of petroleum jelly or unscented lotion. You can also ask your Wayne, NJ podiatrist for recommendations of specific products to help.
Calluses build up more quickly and more often on the feet of people with diabetes. Too many calluses may require therapeutic shoes or inserts. If left untrimmed, calluses can get very thick and break down, tuning into ulcers or open sores. You should never try to cut calluses or corns yourself as this can lead to greater infection. You may uses a pumice stone every day to control your calluses, but your best course of action is getting your Wayne podiatrist to assist you with proper treatment.
Ulcers do not hurt, but every ulcer should be seen by a doctor or Wayne, NJ podiatrist immediately. They’re most likely to occur on the ball of the foot or bottom or the big toe, or possibly on the sides of the feet due to ill-fitting shoes. You may need an x-ray to ensure the bone isn’t infected or to have any dead or infected tissue cleaned out. Neglecting infected ulcers may lead to a loss of a foot or limb, so the sooner it’s treated by your Wayne podiatrist, the better.
Finally, poor circulation (blood flow) is the root of many diabetic foot issues. Diabetes causes blood vessels of the foot and leg to narrow and harden. You can improve your circulation by: not smoking (which hardens your arteries), by following your doctor’s dietary advice for cholesterol and blood pressure, and by exercising.
Controlling your diabetes will help you prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place and will help your body fight potential infections that could lead to amputation. See your podiatrist in Wayne, NJ and your primary care doctor for additional advice in managing diabetic foot issues. Always follow your doctor’s advice when caring for ulcers and other diabetic foot problems.