Foot problems commonly develop in people with diabetes and can quickly become serious. In fact, the incidence of limb-threatening ulcerations in diabetics is very high, affecting 1 in 6 of our diabetic patients.
Non-healing diabetic ulcers are the second leading cause of leg, foot and toe amputations in the U.S. after trauma injuries. Ulcerations do not occur spontaneously. They are always preceded by gradual or sudden injury to the skin by some external factor, so prevention is key. With summer upon us, foot care is more important than ever, as summer is especially hard on feet.
• With damage to the nervous system, a person with diabetes may not be able to feel his or her feet properly. Normal sweat and oil production that lubricates the skin of the feet is often impaired. This can lead to abnormal pressure on the feet during walking and sores can develop. It is imperative that you check your feet daily for red spots and open sores. If something doesn’t seem right, take immediate action and call our office. When in doubt, check it out.
• Summer is often an active time. Activity is good. Activity in bad shoes – especially if you are diabetic – is not good. Avoid open-toed sandals and flip flops. These types of shoes provide little protection and often cause blisters and calluses.
• Use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF on your feet. Protect feet from the sun – they can burn too. Sunburn can cause blisters, which in turn can lead to complications. Damage to blood vessels and impairment of the immune system from diabetes makes it difficult to heal wounds. Bacterial infection to the skin, connective tissues, muscles and bones can follow.
We invite you to schedule an appointment with us to review good foot care. We cannot over emphasize the importance of preventative foot care for our patients with diabetes. Being able to recognize problems early and seek the right treatment is paramount. Although treatment for diabetic foot problems has dramatically improved over the years, prevention – which includes good control of blood sugar levels – remains the best way to prevent diabetic complications.