Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases where there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period, this can produce serious long-term complications like; cardiovascular disease, eye damage and foot complications like:
Although it can hurt, diabetic nerve damage can also lessen your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Loss of feeling often means you may not feel a foot injury. You could have a small or stone in your shoe and walk on it all day without knowing. You could get a blister and not feel it. You might not notice a foot injury until the skin breaks down and becomes infected.
Nerve damage can also lead to changes in the shape of your feet and toes. Ask your health care provider about special therapeutic shoes, rather than forcing deformed feet and toes into regular shoes.
- Skin Changes
Diabetes can cause changes in the skin of your feet. At times your feet may become very dry. The skin may peel and crack. The problem is that the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your feet no longer work.
After bathing, dry your feet and seal in the remaining moisture with a thin coat of plain petroleum jelly, an unscented hand cream, or other such products.
Do not put oils or creams between your toes. The extra moisture can lead to infection. Also, don't soak your feet, that can dry your skin.
Calluses occur more often and build up faster on the feet of people with diabetes. This is because there are high-pressure areas under the foot. Too manycallusesmay mean that you will need therapeutic shoes and inserts.
Calluses, if not trimmed, get very thick, break down, and turn into ulcers (open sores). Never try to cut calluses or corns yourself - this can lead to ulcers and infection. Let your podiatrist cut your calluses. Also, do not try to remove calluses and corns with chemical agents. These products can burn your skin.
- Foot Ulcers
Ulcers occur most often on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers on the sides of the foot are usually due to poorly fitting shoes. Remember, even though some ulcers do not hurt, everyulcershould be seen by your podiatrist right away. Neglecting ulcers can result in infections, which in turn can lead to loss of a limb.
- Poor Circulation
Poor circulation can make your feet less able to fight infection and to heal. Diabetes causesblood vesselsof the feet and legs to narrow and harden. You can control some of the things that cause poor blood flow. Don't smoke; smoking makes arteries harden faster. Also, follow your health care provider's advice for keeping yourblood pressureandcholesterolunder control.
If your feet are cold, you may be tempted to warm them. Unfortunately, if your feet cannot feel heat, it is easy for you to burn them with hot water, hot water bottles, or heating pads. The best way to help cold feet is to wear warm socks.
Some people feel pain in their calves when walking fast, up a hill, or on a hard surface. This condition is calledintermittent claudication. Stopping to rest for a few moments should end the pain. If you have these symptoms, you must stop smoking. Some people can be helped with medication to improve circulation.
Exercise is good for poor circulation. It stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Walk in sturdy, good-fitting, comfortable shoes, but don't walk when you have opensores.
People with diabetes are far more likely to have a foot or leg amputated than other people. The problem? Many people with diabetes haveperipheral arterial disease (PAD), which reduces blood flow to the feet. Also, many people with diabetes have nerve disease, which reduces sensation. Together, these problems make it easy to get ulcers and infections that may lead to amputation. Most amputations are preventable withregular careand proper footwear.
For these reasons, take good care of your feet and see your health care provider right away about foot problems. Always follow your podiatrist advice when caring for ulcers or other foot problems.
One of the biggest threats to your feet issmoking. Smoking affects small blood vessels. It can cause decreased blood flow to the feet and make wounds heal slowly. A lot of people with diabetes who need amputations are smokers.