Looking after your feet
When you have diabetes, you need to take special care of your feet every day. Your feet are at risk because diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet, affect your blood circulation, and increase your risk of infection. Having diabetes can increase your risk of foot ulcers and amputations. This damage is more likely if:
- You have had diabetes for a long time
- You are inactive
- Your blood glucose levels have been too high for an extended period of time
- You smoke (smoking causes a reduction in blood flow to your feet therefore resulting in slower wound healing).
Foot care is very important and is something you can do for yourself to prevent serious complications. Did you know that 85% of diabetes-related amputations are preventable if problems are detected early and managed appropriately? People with diabetes should be visiting their Podiatrist annually for a check-up or more frequently if their feet are at high risk.
Daily foot checks
As a diabetic, it is important you check your feet every day. Early detection is key in the prevention of the more serious complications associated with diabetes.
If you see any of the following, seek medication attention that day:
- Unusual swelling
- Elevated temperature
- Change in foot shape
- Bruising or cuts
- Ingrown toe nails
If you see any of the following, seek medication attention within 7 days:
- Cracked skin
- Broken skin between the toes
- Nail colour changes
In people with diabetes, if high blood glucose levels are experienced for an extended period, blood vessels can become damaged which can lead to plaque formation in the blood vessels making then unable to deliver a sufficient amount of blood to neighbouring cells. This makes people more prone to infection following any injury that breaks the skin. Signs of poor blood supply include:
- Cuts which are slow to heal
- Feet feeling cold
- Feeling looking a reddish-blue colour
- Sharp leg cramps after walking short distances
- Pain or cramping in the feet or calves, even at rest.
Diabetic neuropathy is a serious and common complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is a type of nerve damage caused by long-term high blood sugar levels. The condition usually develops slowly. Some symptoms include:
- A pins and needles, tingling sensation in the feet
- Coldness of the legs
- Burning pains in the legs and feet.
As these symptoms can result from a loss of sensation in the feet, this increases the risk of accidental damage because you are unable to feel any pain, quite often leaving these injuries undetected and therefore prone to infection and further deterioration.