Why do diabetics need to look after their feet?
Diabetes may affect your feet in a number of ways and in some cases may lead to serious complications.
One of the early changes may be loss of sensation in your feet starting in your toes. This is called peripheral neuropathy. It can be gradual, and go unnoticed which is why it is important that you have a diabetic foot assessment annually by a podiatrist. At Howlett & Dickinson we provide all our diabetic clients with a free anuual diabetic foot assessment.
Occasionally there may be pain or a burning sensation accompanying loss of feeling, this is called painful neuropathy.
When your nerves in your feet are affected other changes may follow e.g. clawing of the toes and the bones in your feet may be more susceptible to fracture.
At your annual foot review any early signs of neuropathy will be detected, and you will receive both advice and explanation of these changes.
Another change that may occur is reduced blood flow to the feet. Diabetes may also affect your ability to heal and reduce your bodies natural ability to fight bacteria, therefore you should take care of any cuts, scratches or blisters on your feet.
If you are a low risk diabetic one check up per year is adequate. However if you are at increased risk of complications these inspections should be done more regularly.
At Howlett & Dickinson we check the pulses of the feet to check circulation and check for loss of sensation in the feet.
We also look for any foot deformity or signs of excessive pressure that may warrant foot care advice. We remove hard skin and corns and sometimes the provision of corrective or protective insoles is necessary.
Can I prevent or slow down any changes to my feet?
It is possible to prevent or delay changes if you follow medical advice and keep blood pressure and cholesterol and blood sugar levels within the target range set by your doctor. Your chances of doing this will be greatly improved if you do not smoke.
Consult your podiatrist immediately if you see any of the following in your feet:
1.A break in the skin or discharge
2.The skin changes colour, becoming redder, bluer, paler or blacker, over part or all of the foot.
3. New swelling in your feet
4. Seek urgent advice from your doctor or podiatrist if you normally have little or no feeling in your feet but suddenly experience an unexplained pain or discomfort, especially if the surrounding skin is a little warmer to the touch, compared to a similar spot on the other foot.
8 Top Tips for healthy diabetic feet
1. Always check your feet everyday for cuts, colour change and wounds that are not healing.
2.Clean and dress any cuts, scratches or wounds with a sterile dressing before consulting your podiatrist or GP surgery.
3. Always wear footwear especially if you have lost the feeling in your feet.
4. Always wear shoes that fit properly.
5. Never sit with your feet too close to the fire
6. If you have corns and callouses visit a podiatrist regularly for there removal as they are caused by pressure from shoes.
7. Do not attempt to use corn plasters, as they can cause damage if you have loss of sensation or poor circulation and can cause serious consequences.
8. Nail cutting – if able cut your nails straight across and file any sharp edges with an emery board. Any difficulties in cutting your nails you should consult a podiatrist.
How do I seek a private consultation with a podiatrist?
You can search for a podiatrist at www.feetforlife.org