Neuropathy is among the most common complications of diabetes. It happens when high blood sugar damages your nerves over time. It causes pain, tingling, and numbness — and it usually starts in your feet.
Because of this, people with diabetes are more likely to get foot infections, and those infections are more likely to cause serious complications. Fortunately, proactive diabetic foot care can help you stay healthier.
Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists work with diabetics of all ages to identify and treat common foot complications. In this blog, we’re sharing some of the most important tips for taking care of your feet and lowering your risk of more serious issues.
Diabetic neuropathy reduces sensation and blood flow. That means you can’t feel your feet well, and small injuries are more likely to go unnoticed. Poor circulation can also limit sensation, and it slows your body’s ability to heal itself.
Loss of sensation and poor circulation can put you at risk of some serious complications. Without intervention, infection, slow-healing wounds, and diabetic foot ulcers can compromise your health and in serious cases, necessitate amputation.
Diabetic neuropathy can compromise your foot health, but a diabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean complications are inevitable. Regular foot care — at home and in the podiatrist’s office — is one of the best ways to keep feet healthy, identify issues early on, and get the treatment you need.
Here’s what we recommend to our diabetes patients:
Make foot hygiene part of your daily routine. Wash your feet and toes in warm water with gentle soap. Dry them completely, making sure to get between each toe. Apply lotion to the tops and bottoms, but not between toes, and put on a pair of clean socks.
When you wash your feet, check them for signs of injury or other issues. Look at the tops, bottoms, and sides of your feet and toes for:
If you can’t easily see the bottoms of your feet, consider using a mirror or asking someone else to help.
Always wear socks and shoes or slippers to protect your feet. Avoid walking barefoot even at home, because this increases your risk of getting cuts and scrapes.
Wear clean, dry socks every day. Wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive. If you have trouble finding shoes that fit, talk to our team. We can suggest diabetic-friendly footwear brands or custom orthotics to make your shoes more comfortable.
Sharp, long, or jagged toenails can pierce your skin and cause injury. You should trim your nails regularly, always cutting them straight across and filing down any sharp edges.
If you can’t reach or see your feet well, consider professional toenail trimming. Our podiatric team provides this service to ensure your nails are cut regularly and properly.
Foot care at home is important, but it isn’t a substitute for professional foot exams. The American Diabetes Association recommends that everyone with diabetes get a full foot exam at least once a year. And if you notice something concerning in your at-home inspection, don’t wait until your annual exam to get it checked out.
At these appointments, Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun visually examine your feet and ask about any symptoms you’re experiencing. We can treat issues like corns and calluses to keep them from progressing, as well as provide critical care for more serious complications like slow-healing wounds and foot ulcers.
Is it time to schedule your next diabetic foot exam? Call our offices in Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan, or request an appointment online now.