How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet?

For the 30.3 million Americans living with diabetes, it is vital to check your glucose levels daily. If left unchecked, high blood sugar can cause complications throughout your body. This includes your feet. 

Dr. Thomas Rambacher and his team at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle want you to have the best foot health possible. If you have diabetes, that means looking out for these key things when it comes to your feet. 

How diabetes affects your feet

There are two main problems that affect your feet as a result of unchecked diabetes: diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. 

Diabetic neuropathy 

When left unmanaged, diabetes will damage your nerves. If the nerves that get damaged are in your legs and feet, you won’t feel the sensations of heat, cold, or even pain. Not being able to feel an injury could cause it to go untreated, making you susceptible to infection. 

The nerves also control muscle function, so damaged nerves mean your legs may not function properly. Your foot may not align correctly, which will cause pressure points in the wrong places. 

Peripheral vascular disease 

Besides nerves, the other major diabetic complication involves the flow of blood. When you don't have good blood circulation, it takes your body longer to heal. If you have an injury or sore that won’t heal, you risk developing an ulcer or gangrene. 

Common foot problems associated with diabetes 

The two conditions we just discussed are serious medical issues that can threaten your life. There are several other foot problems that can occur that are more minor but can become serious if you have diabetes. 

It is important not to ignore these problems as they can lead to a more serious infection and possibly amputation. 

Athlete’s foot 

This is a fungus that will cause your feet to turn red, crack, and become itchy. If left untreated, bacteria and germs can enter through the cracks and create an infection. You will need a pill or cream to treat the fungus. 

Fungal infection in nails

If your nails become yellow, brown, or opaque, you most likely have a fungal infection. To treat an infected nail, you can try creams, oral pills, or even removal of the nail. 

Calluses and corns 

A callus or corn forms when your skin experiences trauma. A certain amount of callus buildup is normal. However, some are formed because of skin abnormalities or improperly fitting shoes. Never try to cut your calluses off. Instead, use a pumice stone to remove skin buildup gently. 

Foot ulcers  

These are breaks in the skin or a deep sore on your foot that can start from a minor scrape or cut. Due to the dark, moist nature of the foot environment, they are at risk of getting infected. 

Prevention of foot problems 

You can prevent foot problems by washing and checking your feet daily for injury. Through vigilance, you can catch any problems when they first occur. 

If you find that you have foot problems because of your diabetes, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rambacher and his team at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle. They will assess your condition and suggest a treatment plan, as well as monitor your recovery to ensure the problem doesn’t worsen. 

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