Footcare for diabetics and for the aged
Diabetes foot care is vital. Persons suffering from diabetes need to be extra careful with their feet. Infections of diabetic feet can be most serious, in some cases requiring amputation of the feet.
People with diabetes tend to heal more slowly from cuts, sores and wounds, because the body’s processes that fight infection tend to respond more slowly.
Moreover, diabetics – and the aged – often have poor blood circulation and this slows down the healing process even further.
As poor blood circulation affects those parts of the body farthest from the heart, the feet are the most prone to be affected. This is why diabetes foot care is particularly important.
In addition, diabetes can cause nerve damage in the feet, and such damage often go undetected.
Diabetes can also affect the joints, making them stiffer.
Other complications that may arise from diabetes include kidney disease, which affects proteins that are involved in wound healing, and failing eyesight which prevents the diabetic patient from checking for foot problems.
The Chiropodist | Podiatrist
Rosalie Q. Tio
Chiropodist, International College of Biomechanics, Australia
Because these are serious conditions, diabetes foot care is best left in the hands of footcare professionals, such as chiropodists and podiatrists. If you have diabetes, consult your chiropodist / podiatrist for the care of corns, calluses, in-grown toe nails and other foot problems.
The foot is especially affected by diabetes because:
Diabetes damages the nerves (damage can occur to the foot and not be detected) – this is called peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetes also affect the circulation. Poor circulation can affect the ability of the body to heal when damage occurs.
Those with diabetes are more prone to infection – the body’s processes that normally fight infection respond slower and often have trouble getting to infections due to the poor circulation.
Take heed of your chiropodist’s / podiatrist’s advice.
Do not attempt self diabetes foot care at home. A number of things can go wrong and this may worsen the infection:
For example, because of nerve damage, the diabetes sufferer may wound himself (while cutting toenails, scratching, and so on) without realising it.
Nerve damage can also cause numbness of the feet. But because the feet feels little or no sensation, you may continue to walk and exert pressure on the affected area, causing further damage to the joints.
Foot ulcers are a common complication due to diabetic foot. Such ulcers are often caused by excessive pressure on an area, which results in the skin breaking down. They often occur under corns and calluses.
It normally takes a while for diabetic foot ulcers to heal. Proper diabetes foot care by a chiropodist / podiatrist will involve easing pressure from the affected area and using good wound dressings.
This will speed up the healing process as well as prevent the condition from worsening.
As a consequence of these factors a number of things can go wrong:
• The foot may get damaged and you do not know about (for example, your shoe rubs a sore onto a toe that gets infected – you can not feel it because of the peripheral neuropathy – you can not heal very well due to the infection and poor circulation).
For diabetes foot care, your chiropodist / podiatrist will also advise you on daily measures to ensure that your diabetic feet do not lend themselves for diabetes foot problems to arise.
Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water, and using a mild soap. After washing, it is important to dry your feet thoroughly and carefully – especially the areas between the toes.
Inspect your foot daily or have a family member help you check for sores, cuts, bruises, changes to the toenails and other conditions. If you perform the inspection yourself, use a mirror to look under the foot.
Cut toenails straight across. Do not cut them around the corners. Use an emery board or file on sharp corners.
Do not try to remove corns and calluses yourself – have this done by a chiropodist / podiatrist as part of your diabetes foot care regime. Self-inflicted wounds are common among people with diabetic feet and, as explained earlier, such people may not even realise that they have wounded themselves.
It is also important NOT to use commercial corn cures for diabetes foot care, because such medications may damage the skin.
Wear shoes or sandals even at home, to avoid accidental damage or injury to the skin. At the same time, use every opportunity to ventilate your feet, for example by removing your foot wear when you are sitting down.
Consult your chiropodist / podiatrist regularly. You may need to have professional diabetes foot care once every few weeks to every few months.
The frequency will depend on the seriousness of your condition, and on the extent to which you are able to give yourself proper diabetes foot care.
In case of any cuts, wounds or other injury to the feet, consult your chiropodist / podiatrist immediately.
Do not wait a few days to see how things go because – without proper diabetes foot care – the chances are very high that the condition will worsen rather than go away by itself.
Regular diabetes foot care from a chiropodist / podiatrist is a key way to prevent problems and serious complications.
Proper diabetes foot care can save your feet. It can save your life!