Diabetes is a long-term health issue that affects many organs of the body - the eyes, kidneys, brain, nerves, and feet. This article talks about the last one, the foot issues that diabetics face, and how to care for them.
Diabetes poses danger to one’s feet that even the smallest of cuts can cause serious damage and may result in loss of feeling in the feet. It may also decrease blood flow to the feet thus making it harder for injuries to heal or protect the feet from infection. This leads to diabetic foot issues such as sores and blisters. An alarming statistics shows that between 9 - 20% of foot ulcers lead to amputations. This proves how important it is t take precautions to keep the feet in good shape.
Avoid diabetic sore on foot
Nerve damage due to diabetes robs the protective skin with sensation and interfered with fast healing. People suffering from diabetes don’t feel any pain from feet sores, calluses, blisters, and other injuries. Without feeling the pain, they’d be unable to fight the decay and further damage. Diabetes experts always recommend people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to protect their feet at all times. This isn’t just keeping them clean but more adapting a routine of doing regular foot checks, choosing the right socks/shoes, and having comprehensive foot exams annually.
Check your feet daily for any wounds
Always set aside a time every day to check all the parts of your feet for any of the following:
- Dry feet/dry cracking skin
- Rashes/athletes foot
- Pain, swelling, any signs of infection
- Change in color or temperature
- Cuts, blisters, or ingrown toenails
Use a mirror for more visuals or ask your partner to help you see all the areas. If there are any problems, it’s best to call the doctor immediately.
Keep a good foot hygiene
Clean your feet regularly with lukewarm water - not hot water to avoid skin burns. Stepping into the water without testing the temperature may cause scalding. Always check the temperature with your forearm before gently putting your feet in.
Dry your feet with a soft towel and rub moisturizer. It’s important to use a brand that you’re good with, this helps in keeping your feet from dryness and cracks. It’s also suggested to trim the toenails regularly to promote cleanliness and avoid the risk of ingrown toenails.
Use the right socks and shoes
Don’t compromise your comfort over style, use footwear that you’re comfortable with. Go for the well fit shoes and dry socks to protect your feet from any damage. Leather and natural fibers are better choices for people with diabetic foot issues. Foot-friendly socks also matter, this means seamless socks to avoid skin rubbing and skin breaks. It’s recommended to change socks daily and use the padded ones made from cotton or any material that controls moisture. Socks with holes should be replaced.
If possible, keep your feet covered even indoors. Neuropathy causes loss of feeling in the feet, you may not notice if you stepped on sharp objects. Use house slippers that cover your feet well.
Do Low-impact exercises
There are still low impact exercises you can do even when you are suffering from diabetic feet issues. Look for exercises and fitness classes without jumping, bouncing, and leaping. The safest options are walking and swimming but still, you must take extra caution not to put too much pressure on your foot. It’s also important to use the right footwear when exercising.
Should I see my doctor?
There are various home remedies available for itchy feet and you may not need to see the doctor right away. If the moisturizers, topical creams, and other techniques don’t work, then it may be best to call for a specialist. You can also check out with your doctor if you see any signs of neuropathy, blisters, cuts, and other diabetic foot issues.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) along with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists suggests foot exams every 3-6 months if you’re suffering from neuropathy of loss of sensation, about 1-2 months if you have a history of frequent foot ulcers or amputation.
Serious complications can be prevented and avoided provided that regular home care and doctor’s appointments are given utmost importance. Adapt simple habits such as proper posture and popper sitting position. Avoid crossing your legs and wiggle your toes every once in a while when seated for a long time. No matter how busy the day is, it is imperative to set aside a proper amount of time to check your feet. Any area of concern shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Most importantly, always check your blood sugar. Communicate with your healthcare team and ensure that your blood sugar level is always in the normal range.
1 Litzelman DK et al. Reduction of lower extremity clinical abnormalities in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 1993; 119(1):36-41.
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