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Diabetes is a common disease that is the body's inability to break down sugar, therefore creating high blood sugar. Many people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetic nerve damage, which can cause diminished feeling in the feet. As a result, cuts, scratches and breaks in the skin can occur without you feeling them and cause an infection.

If you have diabetes, you may not notice rough seams in your shoes or socks that are rubbing against your skin and causing it to break down. You may also not be aware of weakening joints, which can cause you to change the way you put pressure on your feet as you walk. In turn, friction you can't feel may cause your skin to blister or crack, opening a path for ulcers and infection.

Your blood nourishes tissues and carries infection-fighting cells to those tissues that need them. Because diabetes can cause circulatory problems, your feet may be suffering from a reduced blood supply putting you at greater risk for infection.

The overriding goal of foot care for diabetics is to stop infection before it starts. You can help prevent infection by keeping the skin of your feet healthy and intact by taking immediate steps to care for any irritation that does occur. The utmost important prevention of infection is to keep the blood sugar under control.

  Take Notice!

If you have diabetes and experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you bring them to the attention of your physician or podiatrist.

 
Changes in the color of the skin on your feet
Changes in skin temperature
Pain in the legs, either at rest or while walking
Swelling of the foot or ankle
Open sores that are slow to heal or never heal
Ingrown or yellowish toenails
Corns or calluses
Cracks in the skin, especially around the heel

 
 


Prevention is Key

The key to successful management of diabetes is keeping your blood sugar level under control and taking good care of your feet every day. Regular visits to a podiatrist - twice a year - are important so that the health of your feet can be closely monitored.

The following self-examination guidelines can help you minimize the foot problems that diabetes may cause. However, these guidelines are not a substitute for professional care.

 
Self-Exam


1. Check your feet everyday for:
   
  • Inflamed areas (redness, swelling and heat indicate a possible infection)
  • Broken skin (cracks, sores and ulcers may cause infection)
  • Infected skin (including breaks with pus or clear drainage, bleeding and foul odor)
  • Ingrown toenails (irritated skin causes infection)
  • Red streaks (indicate possible internal infection)
  • Pale or blue skin (indicates poor circulation)
  • Changes in "feeling" such as pain, tingling sensation, burning, numbness or complete lack of feeling (may indicate nerve damage)
  • Swelling or tenderness (may indicate infection and/or poor circulation)
  • Areas that are cold to the touch (may indicate poor circulation)
  • Use a mirror to help you see the bottoms of your feet. If you can't see your feet clearly, ask someone else to inspect them for you. Call your physician or podiatrist if you notice any of the above conditions.
2. NEVER cut corns or calluses. You may cause infection. Your podiatrist can cut them for you.
3. To prevent ingrown toenails, keep your toenails short and cut them straight across, never cut the corners too deep or curved.
4. Avoid weight gain, or lose weight if necessary, to minimize the pressure on your feet and help keep your blood sugar under control.
5. Never go barefoot, even inside your home. A minor cut or scratch that goes unnoticed can lead to a serious infection.
6. Wear thick, smooth-fitting socks and stockings. Avoid mended socks or those with seams which can cause blisters.
7. Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption. Smoking can lead to circulatory problems and alcohol can contribute to neuropathy (disease of the nervous system).
8. Stay active. Walking is the best overall conditioner for the feet. Swimming is also great exercise.
9. Avoid wearing girdles, garters or any garment that may restrict blood flow to your feet.
10. If you have circulation problems, avoid crossing your legs when sitting, which can compress blood vessels even more.
11. Wash your feet each day with soap and warm (never hot) water. Check the water temperature with your elbow since you may not be able to feel temperature accurately with your hand or foot. Dry your feet thoroughly including between the toes. Apply moisturizing cream to feet (but not between the toes) to keep them from becoming dry and possibly cracking. Use foot powder to absorb extra moisture.
12. Never use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your feet for any reason.
13. Do not use medication on your feet unless recommended by your podiatrist, especially corn removers and other acidic medication.
14. Before putting on your shoes, always check inside them for pebbles, rough seams, glass, or insects.
 
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Dr. Henry Tseng Podiatry
Tel: (626) 330-4866 Fax: (626) 330-7989
We speak English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese)
We gladly accept most insurance: Medicare/MediCal, private insurance, especially PPO.