Living with type 2 diabetes requires careful management of your health, and foot care should be a top priority. Neglecting foot health can lead to serious complications, but with the right knowledge and practices, you can maintain healthy feet and prevent issues before they start.
In this article you will learn:
Diabetes can lead to various unwanted complications, including nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow to the feet. This makes it harder to heal from injuries and increases the risk of infection. Proper diabetic foot care is crucial because even minor wounds can lead to serious infections or ulcers. You might be surprised to know that people living with diabetes are 15 times more likely to have an amputation than those without the condition. Attentive foot care plans can prevent these complications, ensuring that your feet stay healthy and functional. ()
Diabetes affects foot health in two primary ways: through nerve damage and poor circulation. Nerve damage can lead to a loss of feeling in your feet as the nerves carry messages to your brain from all parts of the body. This is called neuropathy and makes it difficult for the brain to notice injuries or pain. It’s also common to experience a tingling sensation that often worsens at night. It’s estimated that about half of all people with diabetes experience some kind of nerve damage.
Poor circulation affects the blood supply to your feet. As a result, this can slow wound healing in cuts and sores, making diabetic foot infections more likely. Some key signs of reduced or poor circulation are pain or cramps when walking. Together, these factors raise the risk of serious foot problems.
People who have had type 2 diabetes for a long period of time, who smoke, are inactive or have high blood sugar levels are most at risk of damage. That is why diabetic foot care is an important priority from diagnosis, but increasingly so as you age with the disease. ()
People with diabetes are more prone to several foot problems, including:
- Fungal Infections: Such as athlete’s foot, which thrives in warm, moist environments.
- Calluses and Corns: High pressure or friction areas can develop thicker skin, leading to pain or ulcers.
- Foot Ulcers: Open sores that can become infected if not treated promptly.
- Dry Skin and Cracks: These can become entry points for infection. ()
Recognising these issues early is key to preventing more serious complications.
Caring for your feet may feel like another chore when you’re living with diabetes. But a daily foot care routine can significantly reduce the risk of foot problems. Here are some or our top tips for foot care:
Inspect Your Feet Daily: Look for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling.
Wash Feet Gently daily: Use lukewarm water and dry them carefully, especially between the toes. Avoid soaking your feet.
Moisturise: Apply lotion to keep skin from cracking but avoid moisturising between the toes as this may lead to infection.
Never go outside barefoot: Always wear shoes, socks or slippers to avoid cuts or injury.
Trim Nails Carefully: Cut straight across and file the edges to avoid ingrown toenails.
Wear Proper Footwear: Shoes should fit well and provide support. Break them in slowly and ensure there are no rocks or pebbles in the shoe before wearing them.
Seek professional help for corns and calluses: Never remove them yourself.
Enjoy movement and blood flow: Put your feet up when you’re sitting and keep the blood flowing by moving your feed throughout the day.
Keep your feet cool: don’t overheat them with electric blankets, hot water bottles or heaters.
Seek medical advice early. (,)
Preventing diabetic foot infection involves staying on top of your daily foot care routine, as well as:
- Keeping Feet Clean and Dry: This reduces the risk of fungal infections.
- Using Antiseptic: Apply to any cuts or wounds to prevent infection.
- Wearing Clean, Dry Socks: Change them daily to keep feet dry.
- Avoiding Tight Footwear: This can cause skin breakdown and increase infection risk. ()
When to See a Healthcare Provider
When it comes to diabetic foot care, we always suggest you seek help as soon as something seems abnormal. Consult a healthcare provider if you notice:
- Changes in Skin Color or Temperature (persistent redness)
- Unusual Swelling in the Foot or Ankle
- Persistent Sores or Infections
- Ingrown Toenails or Fungal Infections
- Bruising or cuts
- Blisters ()
Early intervention is key in preventing serious complications.
Foot care is an essential aspect of managing type 2 diabetes. By incorporating daily foot inspections, maintaining good hygiene, and wearing appropriate footwear, you can significantly reduce the risk of foot-related complications. Remember, if you notice any changes or issues with your feet, consult a healthcare provider promptly. Taking these steps will help ensure your feet remain healthy, allowing you to continue enjoying an active and fulfilling life.