Once an individual has an elevated blood sugar level, he/she faces the risk for diabetes. Millions of individuals all over the globe have diabetes. It is important to note that nervous system impairment (neuropathy) is a complication that can cause loss of sensation in the hands or feet. It simply means that the individual will not know right away if he/she has hurt himself. This issue affects about 60-70% of individuals who have diabetes. Remember that minor injuries can become major ones before the individual is even aware of it. When it comes to a diabetic foot, even a small wound caused by an ill-fitting shoe can cause a lot of damage.
Diabetes can also reduce the blood flow, thus injuries heal at a very slow rate. If the wound is not healing properly, it is at risk for infection. Among those who have diabetes, infection can quickly spread and if there is loss of sensation, he/she might not recognize that the issue is getting worse.
If an individual has diabetes, it is vital to inspect the feet on a daily basis. Check for bruises, puncture wounds, redness, pressure areas, warmth, blisters, scratches, ulcers, cuts and nail problems. You have to feel each foot for swelling and the area in between the toes. If there is any injury, no matter how minor, bring the individual to a doctor right away.
How to take care of your feet
- You have to wash the feet on a daily basis using mild soap and warm water
- Always check the temperature of the water using your hand
- When drying the feet, pat each foot using a towel and be careful between the toes
- Use quality lotion to keep the skin of the feet moist and soft. Do not apply any lotion in between the toes.
- Use an emery board or nail file. In case an ingrown toenail is present, a doctor should be consulted.
- When trimming the toenails, it must be done straight across and avoid cutting the corners.
- Do not use antiseptic solutions, heating pads, drugstore medications or sharp instruments on the feet.
- Do not place the feet in front on the fireplace or on radiators.
- Encourage the use of loose socks to bed
- Always keep the feet warm at all times
- Avoid getting the feet wet in rain or snow
- The individual should avoid sitting cross-legged for extended periods or smoking since both reduce the blood supply to the feet.
Diabetic foot deformities
Once the feet start to lose sensation, they are at risk for becoming injured or deformed. One way is through the development of ulcers. Remember that open sores can become infected. In some cases, a bone condition called Charcot foot which is a serious foot issue which warps the shape of the foot when the bones fracture and disintegrate, yet the individual continues to walk because it does not hurt.