Diabetic Foot Care
If you have diabetes, prevention is the key to proper foot care.
One of the best ways you can care for your feet is to control your diabetes. Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can wreak havoc in the body, especially the feet. Diabetics should comply with their diabetes management plan, including regular blood glucose monitoring and taking insulin or other medication to keep blood sugar levels from spiking or drastically dipping.
Lifestyle changes generally recommended for people with diabetes can also help prevent diabetic foot conditions. These include a healthy diet, exercise, losing weight if necessary, and to stop smoking (which contributes to both circulatory and nerve problems that are common among diabetics with foot problems).
The podiatrists at The Podiatry Group of South Texas are well-versed in working with patients to develop a preventive care routine that works.
How a Podiatrist Can Help
If you are diabetic, your foot care routine should include regular podiatrist visits to have your feet examined. Our highly qualified foot doctors will look for the earliest signs of diabetic foot conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications of diabetes such as nonhealing foot ulcers, infection, and tissue death that could lead to amputation.
A comprehensive foot exam by a qualified, experienced podiatrist is a good place to start when it comes to diabetic foot care. The foot doctors at The Podiatry Group of South Texas know exactly what to look for when examining and caring for the feet of patients with diabetes, and they will let you know how often you should visit for routine, preventive care. An annual exam may be sufficient or you may need more frequent visits.
Cuts or sores that don’t heal, inflammation, and numbness in the area may all indicate nerve or blood vessel damage. When foot or ankle injuries are not promptly and properly treated, they can lead to serious complications.
Even small open sores on the feet need to be properly cared for in diabetic patients. These areas will need to be cleaned and bandaged. Any dead or infected skin tissue is removed and, if an infection is involved, a culture can identify the type of infection and whether medication such as an antibiotics needed to properly treat it.
Staying off the injured foot while recovering from an injury or wound is important to prevent the situation from worsening. Your podiatrist may recommend an appropriate appliance, such as custom orthotics, or immobilization with a boot or cast.
This surgical approach, also known as a limb-sparing technique, can provide an alternative to amputation.
Limb salvage involves removing dead tissue and replacing damaged bone, instead of resorting to amputation, so that the limb remains functional. Dead and diseased bone and tissue are removed and artificial parts or a bone graft (or both) are surgically implanted – the result being, essentially, a reconstructed limb. Reconstructive foot surgery may be used for patients with a severe diabetic foot infection, or for patients with cancer in the bone of the foot or ankle.
Amputation may be required to prevent the spread of gangrene, or tissue death due to a lack of blood flow to the area. A gangrenous infection is considered a medical emergency because it can spread throughout the body and can cause a fatal shock if not immediately treated. The good news is that most amputations are preventable with proper foot care and routine visits to a podiatrist.
The talented doctors at The Podiatry Group of South Texas will monitor any foot infection for tissue death to help prevent the need for surgery.
Self-Care for Diabetics
Foot care is a daily necessity for people with diabetes. Due to nerve damage and circulation problems that are common among diabetics, injuries to the feet may not be felt until after an infection has set in, which will require immediate medical attention. Don’t wait until it’s an emergency – make sure you know how to care for your feet between doctor visits.
- Inspect feet daily. Diabetics are likely to suffer from nerve damage that can cause them to lose sensation in the feet. This means your feet could be injured by stepping on something sharp without you knowing it. Without regular visual inspection of the feet, a simple cut could easily become a nonhealing open sore that becomes infected and results in tissue death.
- Keep feet moisturized. Nerve damage can impact the oil and moisture level of your feet, causing the skin to become dry and cracked. Be sure to use products that don’t irritate the skin such as some scented moisturizers. Petroleum jelly is a safe choice to seal in moisture after washing. Soaking your feet may be more harmful than helpful; if your feet are in water for too long or too often, it can actually dry out your skin.
- Aid blood flow to the feet. Wigging your toes periodically, elevating your feet when sitting, and exercising regularly can all help promote good circulation when you’re diabetic.
- Protect your feet. Wear seamless socks and comfortable, properly fitted shoes as much as possible – even indoors – to keep your feet protected from accidentally stepping on something that may cut you without being aware of it.
- Check the inside of your shoes before putting them on. If this means shaking your shoes over a trash can, do so. Dislodging any debris hiding in there lessens the chance you spend time walking on something that could cause a sore.
- Smooth corns and calluses carefully. Corns and calluses on the feet can break down and become foot ulcers. Trimming corns and calluses can help prevent this; have it done by a professional, such as a podiatrist. Using a pumice stone on wet skin every day can keep calluses, especially, from getting out of control. Whatever you do, don’t use chemical or medicated products to remove corns and calluses on your feet because these may burn the skin without your realizing it.
- Be cautious with heat. If you’ve lost sensation in your feet, you may not notice just how hot that hot water or heating pad is. Burning your skin is a real danger; socks are a much safer alternative if your feet are cold.
- Properly trim toenails. Regularly trimming your toenails can help prevent ingrown toenails. This involves cutting straight across the nail; the toenail should not curve.
Our expert foot doctors can help you develop a preventive foot care routine, as well as provide thorough examinations and the right type of treatments to ensure your feet remain healthy and happy, allowing you to walk without pain.
Contact Our Foot Doctors in San Antonio, Boerne, Hondo, Floresville, Kenedy, Live Oak, TX
If you have diabetes, proper care of your feet is essential. Find out how the knowledgeable and friendly physicians at The Podiatry Group of South Texas can help. Call the location nearest you or use our convenient appointment request form to schedule your visit.