Diabetic Foot Care and Education

Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder with relative or absolute lack of insulin. Insulin is important for the body since it is necessary for converting sugar to energy. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: the pancreas produces very little or no insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: the pancreas produces insufficient insulin or the body does not effectively utilize the insulin produced. This type is more common.
  • Gestational diabetes: this is a rare temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy.

Caring and Treating Diabetic Foot Problems

It is essential for diabetic patients to pay proper attention to their feet as problems may occur as a result of either circulation or nerve changes. Here are some foot complications that diabetic patients may encounter and some possible treatment options that are available by your chiropodist.

  • Callus – This is an area of thickened skin where excessive pressure and friction exists due to abnormal biomechanics. If left untreated these lesions may bleed under the skin causing tissue breakdown, and possible infection. Treatment consists of simple debridement of the callus and pressure relieving padding or insoles/orthotics to address biomechanical abnormalities.
  • Corns – Unlike callus that is diffuse, corns are an excessive skin buildup in a localized area usually with a hard central core. Some possible causes are abnormal foot biomechanics and improper footwear. Management includes simple debridement and deflective padding or insoles/orthotics to address any biomechanical problems.
  • Ingrown Toenails – This occurs when a spike from the side of the nail starts to grow into the surrounding skin. This usually results from improper nail cutting or tight footwear. Treatment options include footwear education, reshaping the nail or nail surgery procedures.
  • Ulcers – Are an open wound due to circulation problems, lack of sensation, or pressure. Management consists of evaluation, debridement, and appropriate dressings, deflective padding or orthotics may be necessary. Learn more about foot ulcers and wounds. Learn more about healing diabetic foot ulcers with weight distribution and total contact casting. Watch a Total Contact Cast being applied.

Any of the above conditions, if left untreated, may result in serious complications requiring more aggressive therapies and/or hospitalization. Get proper professional footcare from a chiropodist in order to prevent such problems. This allows you to put your best foot forward.

Canadian Diabetes Association chartProper Foot Care:
What You Should and Should Not Do

It is essential for diabetic patients to pay proper attention to their feet. The following are a list of do’s and don’ts:

You should

  • Inspect feet daily for changes and breaks in skin. Redness, swelling, sores, bleeding, numbness or tingling all need to be addressed by a health professional.
  • Wash feet daily with mild soap and water. Test the water temperature with elbow to avoid burns. Dry thoroughly especially between toes.
  • Apply moisturizer to prevent cracks and dry damaged skin. (not to be applied between toes)
  • Always wear footwear to prevent trauma. Check inside the shoes every time you put them on since even a small stone or uneven insole can cause serious wounds.
  • Utilize white cotton socks that are smooth with no rough seams. White socks will allow early detection of wound discharge or bleeding.
  • Make sure toes nails are cut straight across and are even with the end of your toes.

You should not

  • Use heating pads, hot water bottles or thermal packs. Insensitive feet can be badly burned.
  • Cut corns, calluses or ingrown nails. This can cause potential infections.
  • Use medicated corn pads. They can cause ulcers in diabetic feet.
  • Wear tight socks, garters, pantyhose, shoes or any other clothing which restricts blood flow to your feet.
  • Smoke. Tobacco impairs blood circulation

Additional Resources:

Many people with diabetes have problems with their feet. You can prevent serious issues by understanding the risk factors and following the basic guidelines suggested by your diabetes health care team. We’re on your side. Talk to us today!

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