Caring for Your Feet with Diabetes

March 25, 2017

Dr. Shermi Parikh

 

Diabetes, a condition that affects nearly 26 million people in the U.S., prevents the body from making or properly using insulin. Without insulin, the body cannot process and convert sugars, starches, and other foods to energy, which elevates glucose levels in the blood and raises the body’s blood pressure. Over time, this condition can damage your eyes, heart, kidney, nerves, and even your feet.

In fact, many of the symptoms of diabetes exhibit themselves in the feet. Over time, consistently high blood glucose levels can restrict blood flow and damage the coating around the nerves in the body. Diabetic nerve damage can result in pain, burning, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. A common complaint associated with subtle diabetic nerve damage is a “bunched up sock” feeling on the bottom of the foot. Sometimes this nerve damage can deform or misshape your feet, resulting in pressure points that may develop into more serious blisters, sores or ulcers. Poor blood circulation then makes any injuries sustained on the feet much harder to heel.  

Some symptoms of neuropathy associated with diabetes include:

  • Swelling of your feet or ankles
  • Skin discoloration
  • Numbness or pain in your feet or toes
  • Open sores on your feet that are slow to heal
  • Corns and calluses on your feet
  • Dry, cracked skin - especially around the heel
  • Ingrown or fungal toenails

How Can I Protect My Feet if I Have Diabetes?

There are a number of ways to maintain healthy feet if you are managing diabetes.

Check your feet everyday: Check your feet daily for scratches, cracks, cuts, or blisters. It’s possible to have foot problems without experiencing pain. If you notice sores or ulcers on your feet, contact

Wash your feet everyday: Keep your feet clean, dry, and moisturized to prevent your skin from drying out and cracking. Take care not to moisturize between your toes to prevent infection.

Always wear socks and shoes: Wear shoes and socks at all times - even indoors. Make sure you are wearing shoes that fit well and will protect your feet - Dr. Parikh can provide excellent guidance on proper foot wear for your particular needs.

 

Maintain physical activity: Staying physically active will help increase blood circulation in your feet. Dr. Parikh can provide guidance for exercises if you are unable to walk or do other strenuous physical activity.

Diabetes affects many different parts of the body, so successfully managing your condition takes a team effort of care for your whole body. Regular podiatry check ups help to prevent complications of diabetes from becoming serious.