Diabetes is a condition which not just restricts your food and lifestyle but if it is taken lightly or left untreated then it can affect the blood vessels and nerves which results into damage of your major organs like eyes, skin, kidneys, hands and legs etc.
Here we will discuss about problems caused by diabetes to the feet which supports and balance the whole body.
How diabetes can cause foot problem?
Since diabetes mainly affects the blood vessels and nerves which are the largest important network inside your body for transportation of nutrients, immunity and messages. If these networks are interrupted at any point then the condition of that organ will surely deteriorate. In case of foot, diabetes affects mainly through two ways which are:
Diabetic Neuropathy – The nerves located in the foot becomes weak or damage due to diabetes and thus you would not feel any kind of sensation like hot, cold or pain in the foot. The situation becomes worse when you don’t feel pain due to cut or sore formed in your foot. Since there is no pain, the infection or wound left unnoticed for longer time and remain untreated which let it spread and the foot gets damaged. Nerves also control the muscles and tendons in the foot and if there will be any damage to the foot then it can cause alignment problem which will create extra pressure in one area of foot.
Peripheral vascular disease -Diabetes affects the blood vessels and the flow of blood into them. The excess of sugar can slow down the flow of blood in the vessels and without good flow, the body energy and immunity level reduces significantly. The blood flow towards the limbs (hands and legs) is known as peripheral blood flow and any ill health condition associated with this process is known as “peripheral vascular disease”. In this condition, the circulation of blood towards the hands and legs is greatly affected. Feet are mainly affected as they are located on extremes and any cut or infection will take time to heal because of poor blood flow. Any small infection can become bigger like ulcer or gangrene in worse conditions which can sometimes even results into amputation of the organ.
What are the common problems associated with foot?
There are many foot problems which occurs in normal people but their risk of development increased many folds during diabetes. Here are the list of foot problems and their symptoms:
It is a fungal infection which occurs when the fungus enters into any cracks of the foot skin and remain untreated. The skin will become more cracked, started itching and becomes red. It can be treated with antifungal medicines like oral medications or tropical creams.
Fungal nail infection is identified with thick brittle, yellow brown or opaque nails and it may crumble or pull away from rest of the nail. It is also caused by nail injury and is very difficult to treat. Topical medications are effective in only some cases therefore oral medicines are much preferred. If the mail is heavily infected then surgery is the last treatment in which the infected area is removed through operation.
These are hard thickened areas of skin near the heel caused by uneven weight distribution, skin abnormality or by wearing ill fitting shoes. To avoid calluses, use a pumice stone to rub the area after bath when the skin is soft and place cushioned insoles and pads in your shoes.
A thick button like area develops on the skin between the toes or near a bony area on the toe due to pressure or friction. Don’t use over the counter drugs to treat corn or use sharp objects to cut it. Consult a doctor for medication and use a pumice stone to rub the area after bath.
These are raised and fluid filled spots caused due to friction. It should not be popped as the skin covering the area is protecting the other regions from infection. Use an antibacterial cream or ointment and cover it with a bandage to treat the infection and prevent its further spreading.
It is a sore red, callused region develops outside the joint of big toe and make it to tilt inwards towards other toes. It can develop in both feet and sometimes hereditary. Wearing pointed shoes or high heels which doesn’t provide toe room can cause its development and turn the big toe into unnatural position. The alignment of big toe can be rectified with special toe separator and devices similar to that. If this condition is left untreated then it can cause pain and discomfort and surgery may be required as last option.
Loss of moisture from the skin can cause cracks into it which allows the entry of germs and bacteria resulting into infection. Dry skin can be treated with moisturizing soap, lotions and similar products which makes the skin smooth and soft.
It is mostly found in case of severe diabetes and it develops from the sores caused by minor scrape, skin break or sore. Poor blood flow makes it difficult to heal the wound and early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the complications.
The curling of toes due to weakening of muscles causes hammertoes. The weakening causes tendons of toes to shrink which contracts the toes. It can be hereditary or caused by wearing small sized shoe or shoes which provide inadequate toe room. It can cause difficulty in walking and also other foot problems like sore, calluses and blisters. wearing right footwear and splints can help in re-positioning of the toes and sometimes surgery is needed to straighten the toes.
When the edges of nail grow into the skin, it can cause pain, pressure and cut into the skin which can lead to infection. Wearing wrong size or ill fitting shoes can cause this condition. Regular trimming of nails can prevent this condition and if the condition get worsen then it is recommended to take professional help. In severe cases, surgery is required to remove the affected nail and the nail palette from which the nail arise.
These are small black spots or pinholes on the soles of the feet infected by viruses. These occurs in patches and causes pain which results into discomfort during walking or standing. Take a professional help rather than taking over the counter drugs to treat planter warts.
What are the steps to prevents foot problems?
Foot care is important for personal hygiene but it becomes a necessity during debates because small carelessness can cause major complications.
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Here are some prevention tips for diabetics to avoid foot problems.
Listen to your doctor and diabetes care team
It is very important for you to listen and follow the instructions of your medical care team to avoid any undesirable situation. The main thing is to control your blood sugar which can prevent onset of many complications. Follow your doctor’s medication, instructions and diet recommendations thoroughly to control your condition as much as possible.
Daily Foot care
It is very important to give extra attention to your foot care and inspect them for any foot problem like calluses, sore, blisters, redness, itching etc. on daily basis. If you notice any sign of foot problem then take immediate step for its treatment.
Clean your feet regularly after bath with pumice stone for any calluses or thickened skin. Trim your nails regularly and apply moisturizer after drying them properly.
Choose right kind of foot wear to avoid any friction or extra pressure build up. Buy shoes made of soft materials like leather or canvas. Avoid walking barefoot even at home and wearing sandals. Wear well fitted socks and stockings made of soft elastic.
If you are feeling less sensation in your feet then you should take immediate medical help. You should wiggle your toes frequently and avoid crossing your legs especially for longer hours. Take breaks if you have longer sitting hours, flex your muscles, point your toes and circle your legs to improve blood circulation into feet.
Smoking is injurious to health and dangerous for diabetes so it is important for you to quit it as soon as possible because it increases the blood flow problems.
Go to doctor immediately
If you have noticed change in skin color, temperature, swelling in feet, corn, calluses, ingrown toenails, infected nails, dry or cracked skin, leg pain, foul smell, open sores etc. then go to your doctor immediately.