For those living with diabetes, foot health is not just a matter of comfort—it is a vital component of your overall well-being. Diabetes can affect the nerves, blood vessels, and the body's ability to heal, putting your feet at risk of complications. But here's the good news: with the right knowledge and a proactive approach, you can maintain healthy feet even in the face of diabetes.
In this blog, we will explore the essential steps to keep your feet healthy, from daily care routines to preventing foot ulcers. Yet, our journey doesn't end here. The ultimate safeguard for your foot health lies in the form of diabetic foot screenings—your proactive line of defence.
Understanding Diabetic Foot Issues
Diabetes can cause complications and several foot issues like neuropathy, poor circulation and foot ulcers.
Prolonged high blood sugar as a result of diabetes can lead to nerve damage, known as neuropathy. This may cause tingling, burning, numbness and pain in the affected areas.
Diabetes can also cause blood vessels to harden and narrow, causing poor circulation. This leads to delayed wound healing, increased risk of infection, and pain.
Foot ulcers can come about as a combination of the above issues and increased pressure on certain parts of the feet. Wounds and blisters, if left untreated, can quickly become ulcers.
If left untreated, injuries to the foot can cause serious complications. These may include gangrene and cellulitis, which could lead to foot amputation as the only viable treatment option.
Daily Foot Care
As the risk of foot ulcers increases with diabetes, diabetic patients must be proactive in their foot care and hygiene. These steps and strategies can help detect and reduce foot ulcer complications.
1. Foot inspection
Inspect your foot every day to identify early signs of foot ulcers. Look for small cuts, blisters, swelling and changes in skin colour or temperature.
2. Proper hygiene
Daily washing of the feet with mild soap and warm water can prevent infections and assist the healing process for any cuts or blisters. Be sure to thoroughly dry your feet after washing, especially between the toes.
3. Nail care
If your toenails grow too long, they can cut into the sides of your toes or become ingrown. Inspect and trim your toenails daily if necessary, but avoid cutting into the corners as you may injure the delicate skin here.
4. Correct footwear
Proper footwear that fits well and, most importantly, is comfortable will decrease the risk of blisters. If you suffer from flat feet or plantar fasciitis, be sure to make use of orthotics to prevent pain and uneven pressure on the feet and cause irritation or blisters.
Wound Care and Infection Prevention
If you do develop wounds on your feet, it is incredibly important that you care for them properly to prevent infection and further complications. Clean the wound immediately, or at least as soon as you notice it, with a mild soap and some warm water. Dressing the wound with an antiseptic ointment and sterile bandage will help to prevent infection.
Keep weight off the affected foot to avoid worsening the wound. Maintain your daily foot care routine, and monitor the wound and its healing process. If the wound does not appear to be healing or is worsening, seek an assessment from your doctor to avoid further complications.
The Role of Diabetic Foot Screenings
Regular foot screenings allow for early detection of any injuries that could become serious issues. They allow your doctor to intervene and provide adequate care for your foot issues, preventing further complications such as infection.
Intervention may involve developing a specialised foot care plan that you can follow at home, providing you with proper footwear, antiseptic dressings and other medications, referring you to a specialist or treating a wound there and then.
Care for your feet and book a diabetic foot screening appointment with Dr Desmond Ooi to ensure healthy feet and well-being.