Diabetes affects more than 34 million people in the United States, and another 88 million have prediabetes. Type 2 accounts for up to 95% of diabetes cases. Having diabetes means making certain lifestyle and dietary changes and keeping an eye on your foot health. That’s because diabetes can cause problems that affect not only your overall health, but also your feet -- and a minor foot issue can quickly turn into a serious health threat.
Everyone with diabetes should have a podiatrist as part of their care team. Francine Rhinehart, DPM, specializes in conditions that affect the lower legs and feet and routinely helps patients with diabetes take the best care of their feet possible. Keep reading to learn how diabetes affects your feet and steps you can take to keep your feet in tip-top shape.
Diabetes and your feet
Diabetic foot care is essential for people living with diabetes as elevated blood sugar affects your feet in two distinct ways. It affects blood flow to your legs and feet (peripheral vascular disease) and affects nerves that communicate sensory information (diabetic neuropathy).
In patients with neuropathy, you may lose some sensation in your legs and feet. This means that you’re susceptible to having foot injuries, such as cuts, that may go unnoticed because you won’t necessarily feel them.
Without good blood flow, a small cut can turn into a larger injury. People with diabetes are at risk of developing sores on their feet (diabetic foot ulcers) that take a long time to heal, due to poor blood flow. This puts you at risk for infection, and if not treated promptly, can have life-threatening consequences.
Following are tips to help you protect your feet when you have diabetes.
See your podiatrist regularly
Regular checkups are crucial to keeping your feet healthy. Regularly seeing your podiatrist means that you can catch minor issues with your feet and avoid more advanced complications. Dr. Rhinehart is trained in the most advanced treatment for diabetic foot and leg wounds.
Check your feet daily
It’s crucial to check your feet every day. Keep an eye out for abrasions, cuts, corns, calluses, redness, swelling, or problems with your nails. Use a mirror to examine the bottom of your feet if it’s challenging to pull it up over your knee. If you spot issues such as corn, don’t try to remove them yourself; consult with Dr. Rhinehart.
Practice good foot hygiene
If you’re in a tennis match or go on a long hike, bring extra socks and change during the day. Avoid wearing sweat socks and shoes for extended periods. You must keep your feet clean and dry.
Clean your feet thoroughly each day, and dry gently between your toes. Wear socks with loose elastic tops so that you don’t restrict blood flow.
Wear well-fitting shoes
If you’re a woman, you may love high heels, but most of them are narrow at the toes and cause you to cram your toes against each other. This can cause abrasions on the sides of your feet. Both men and women should wear flat shoes with a wide toe box, so your feet have plenty of room.
Don’t go barefoot
Avoid going barefoot — even in the house; it’s easy to get a cut on the bottom of your foot. It’s tempting at the beach, but pieces of shells in the sand put you at risk for cuts. Consult Dr. Rhinehart on the best footwear for the beach and the pool.
Taking good care of your feet is part of life when you have diabetes. With a skilled podiatrist in your corner, you can stave off complications and keep your feet healthy.
For diabetic foot care and all your other foot care needs, contact our team at our Dallas office at 214-216-6538 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rhinehart. Prospective and existing patients can also send your booking request through our website using our convenient online booking form.