By. Aberdeen City Podiatry Clinic
Diabetes is a lifelong condition which can cause foot problems. Some of these problems can occur because the nerves and blood vessels supplying your feet aredamaged. This can affect:
- feeling in your feet (called ‘peripheral neuropathy’)
- circulation in your feet (called ‘peripheral vascular disease’ or Ischaemia’).
With peripheral neuropathy the nerves may not work as well as normal because even a slightly higher blood sugar (glucose) level can, over time, damage the nerves therefore causing reduced sensation to your feet. The risk of this occurring increases the longer you have diabetes and the older you are, and If your diabetes is poorly controlled.
The risk of narrowed blood vessels (arteries) occurring increases the longer you have diabetes, the older you become and also if you are male. Other risk factors may include smoking, limited physical activity, increased cholesterol level, high blood pressure (hypertension) and being overweight. These changes can be very gradual and you may not notice them. This is why it is essential that you have your feet screened every year. The screening will determine your risk of developing complications such as a foot ulcer. You should follow the advice from your health professional for your level of risk.
Foot screening is a quick, simple and pain free process to help identify the appropriate management of foot care and foot problems for all people with diabetes. Foot screening should be undertaken annually by your General Practice.
- To keep you feet in good condition and prevent problems, here are 10 helpful tips:
- Check your feet daily. If you cannot do this yourself, you should ask someone else to do it for you. If you see anything new (such as a cut, bruise, blister, redness or bleeding), please contact your local Podiatry department for further advice.
- Do not try to treat corns, calluses, verrucas or other foot problems by yourself. They should be treated by a Podiatrist. In particular, do not use chemicals or acid plasters to remove corns.
- Use a moisturising cream for dry skin to prevent cracking. However, you should not apply it between the toes, as this can cause the skin to become too moist which can lead to an infection developing.
- Check your feet for signs and symptoms of fungal infection (athlete’s foot). It can cause flaky skin and cracks between the toes, which can be sore and itchy. If you have athlete’s foot, this should be treated with an antifungal cream available from your pharmacy.
- Cut your nails by following the shape of the end of your toe. Do not cut down the sides of the nails or cut them too short. This may cause damage or lead to the development of an ingrown toenail.
- Wash your feet regularly and dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
- Do not walk barefoot, even at home. You might tread on something and damage your skin.
- Always wear socks with shoes or other footwear. However, don’t wear socks that are too tight around the ankle, as they may affect your circulation.
- Footwear should fit well and secured with lacing or buckles. Always feel inside the before wearing to check for stones, rough edges, etc.
- To avoid foot burns check the bath temperature with your elbow before stepping in; don’t use hot water bottles, electric blankets or foot spas and please don’t sit too close to the fire.
Diabetic foot problems are not always inevitable and with good diabetic control,
lifestyle choices and good foot care you can reduce problems from developing.
It is important you know who to call and what to do if you have any problems
with your feet.
For further information and advice please contact:
Aberdeen City Podiatry Department
Aberdeen Health Village
50 Frederick Street
Tel: 0345 099 0200