If you have diabetes, you have probably been told to take special care of your feet. You may have even heard of people with diabetes having to endure foot amputations. But what is it about diabetes that causes damage to your feet? I’ll tell you, and also give you some tips for taking care of your feet when you have diabetes.
High Blood Sugar Damages Nerves
At the root of the problem is the fact that uncontrolled high blood sugar causes damage to your nerves. Although doctors aren’t sure why exactly, they think that blood sugar affects cells and enzymes in the nervous system. Damaged nerves can cause neuropathy, which is a loss of feeling in the hands and feet. Because you don’t often look at your feet, even minor problems can grow worse without you realizing it, especially if you can’t feel pain and discomfort. Some common problems caused by neuropathy include the following:
- Dry skin. Because the nerves in your feet can no longer send and receive messages from the brain, you will not sweat and your skin will become dry and cracked. Cracks in the skin can allow germs to enter and lead to a serious infection.
- Calluses and bunions. Nerve damage can cause changes to the shape of your feet and your shoes may no longer fit correctly. This can lead to the formation of calluses and bunions, which can continue to rub against your shoes until they become raw and irritated.
- Infections. When you can’t feel your feet, you may not notice small cuts and sores which can grow and become infected. Because diabetes affects blood flow, it becomes harder to fight these kinds of infection, which can be very dangerous.
In general, the loss of feeling and poor blood flow in the feet can create a multitude of problems if you do not take care of them.
Avoiding Foot Injuries
The most important thing you can do to avoid these kinds of potentially catastrophic foot problems is to control your blood sugar according to your doctor’s orders. Test your blood and take the medication that has been prescribed. The following tips will also help:
- Inspect your feet every day, or have someone else take a look if it’s hard for you to see the bottoms of your feet.
- Don’t go barefoot in the house or outside.
- Keep your feet moisturized with lotion, but dry them off thoroughly after bathing—including between the toes.
- Wear diabetic-friendly shoes and socks.
- See a podiatrist regularly.
If you have diabetes, make an appointment with my diabetic foot care team to develop a plan to keep your feet healthy. We will treat blisters, calluses, and bunions before they become a problem and will help you find the supportive, comfortable footwear you need.