At Edmond Norman Foot & Ankle we treat many foot ailments such as blisters, athlete’s foot and corns that for the majority of patients are fairly minor. When we see these conditions in patients who also have diabetes, however, the concern level is greatly elevated. Diabetic patients have a number of factors working against them that can turn minor problems into major medical threats. The disease causes a decrease in the functioning of the immune system and also the circulatory system which can make healing and fighting infections very difficult. Neuropathy (loss of sensation), another common side effect of diabetes, further compounds these issues because patients with diabetes may not detect potential wounds in their early and more treatable stages.
That means patients with diabetes need to use different strategies to detect and prevent foot problems that could result in ulcers and wounds. Here are some tips we recommend:
- Enlist the help of your podiatrist. Regular checkups with our foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. A. Bil Buksh, can help create a regimen of preventive care. The foot doctor can make suggestions based on your existing foot problems (toe deformities, structural problems with the foot, current level of sensation) to help you make changes that will protect your feet. The podiatrist can also let you know what to be on the lookout for as warning signals that an ulcer may be forming.
- Inspect feet daily. Many times changes will occur in the feet before an ulcer forms. Swelling, changes in skin temperature or color and changes to appearance of calluses can all precede the development of an ulcer. By checking your feet daily you will more easily spot changes to your feet. Anything unusual should be reported to your foot doctor immediately.
- Trim nails properly. Make sure toenails are cut straight across and not too short. Ingrown toenails can be an entry point for bacteria.
- Wear properly fitting shoes. Make sure there is ample room in the toe box and that there are no areas that pinch or rub on your feet.
- Don’t let feet stay damp. Dampness can lead to athlete’s foot. Change socks more than once a day if you sweat profusely and consider using a foot powder to help keep feet dry.