Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetes may impact your foot health in a number of ways, and it is important to know how to care for and prevent diabetic foot ulcers. With proper attention, you can prevent issues from happening and care for existing wounds in the best possible manner.
Diabetic foot ulcers

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

Diabetes can cause circulation issues and nerve damage, which greatly affects the health of your feet. People with diabetes also have a higher risk of infection and muscle or joint issues. Poor circulation prevents oxygen and nutrients from making their way to your feet, which in turn makes it more difficult for blisters, cuts, and other wounds to heal. The longer cuts and other sores take to heal, the higher the risk of infection. Nerve damage in the feet, more commonly known as peripheral neuropathy, may cause a variety of physical sensations, but it may also not be felt at all. While neuropathy often causes pain, tingling, and/or weakness in the feet, it also leads to a loss of feeling in the feet. Both poor circulation and peripheral neuropathy increase your chance of developing a foot ulcer and of that wound becoming infected. Foot ulcers precede the majority of diabetes-related amputations, so proper foot care is essential.

What Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic foot care infographicDiabetic foot ulcers are open wounds that are most often found on the bottom of the foot. They may be caused by poor circulation, an unnoticed injury, irritation, or other trauma. Weight, alcohol, and tobacco may also play a role in the development and healing of a foot ulcer. Many patients develop foot ulcers as a result of a lack of feeling in the feet, so pain is not necessarily the first symptom that will alert you to the presence of an ulcer. You may notice drainage on your socks or shoes, swelling, and (if the ulcer has progressed far enough) odor. If you discover a foot ulcer, it is imperative that you consult a podiatrist immediately. The quicker the healing process begins, the lower the odds of infection.

Preventing Diabetic Foot Wounds

There are a number of things you can do to keep your feet healthy and ensure existing injuries heal quickly and properly. For starters, be sure to wear diabetic shoes and socks and that any products you use on your feet are deemed safe for people who have diabetes.
Other preventive measures include:

Finally, check your feet regularly. You may need a mirror to see the bottoms of your feet. Since diabetes often leads to decreased sensation in the feet, physically checking for wounds helps protect foot health.

Caring for Diabetic Foot Wounds

If you do have wounds on your feet, it is important to care for them as soon as they are spotted.
If you have diabetes or poor circulation, talk to your podiatrist about the best ways to protect your feet.
Diabetic foot exam photo