04 Feb Diabetes and Your Feet
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes (4.9% of the Australian population), there’s a lot to manage: checking your blood sugar, visiting your doctor, eating healthy food, being active… With all this to do, your feet might be the last thing on your mind. But if you’re diabetic, you do need to pay attention to your feet since having diabetes can increase your risk of foot ulcers and amputations.
The connection between diabetes and your feet
Over time, diabetes may cause nerve damage, also called peripheral neuropathy. This results in tingling, pain, and a loss of sensation in your feet. When this happens, you may not feel a stone inside your shoe or a blister or cut on your foot, which can lead to sores and infection.
Diabetes also affects your blood circulation. Not having enough blood flowing to your legs and feet can make it hard for a sore or an infection to heal. Worst case scenario? An infection that never heals, leads to gangrene and then to an amputation of your toe, foot, or part of your leg in order to stop the spread of the infection.
Watch out for these signs
- Cold feet and numbness in your toes or your feet
- Sharp pain or pressure in your feet
- “Pins and needles” sensations
- Any changes in colour of the feet
- Nail changes, calluses, corns, dry or cracked skin
- An ulcer or cracked heels
- New pain, swelling or redness in feet or lower limbs, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with nerve damage
How to care for your feet
It’s important to pay more attention to your feet if you have diabetes.
- Keep your feet clean by washing them daily and then drying them thoroughly
- Examine your feet for cuts, blisters, calluses and corns
- Trim your nails straight across and watch for ingrown toenails
- Wear clean socks and shoes that fit well
- Make sure you keep your blood glucose levels low by avoiding smoking and staying physically active