Diabetes is a result of too much glucose in the blood. This high blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can damage many parts of the body – particularly the blood vessels and nerves.
“Because of nerve damage or poor blood flow, people with diabetes are often plagued with a number of different foot problems. Even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications ie. ulceration and gangrene,” says Busi Shembe-Fumo, a podiatrist at one of Clinix Health Group’s private hospitals.
If you have nerve damage in your legs or feet, you might not feel pain, heat or cold in your legs or feet. A sore or cut on your foot might get worse because you are unaware that it is even there. Additionally, poor blood flow means that if you do get a sore or infection, it takes much longer to heal.
“As a result of this, Diabetics should take special care of their feet, and consult a podiatrist if there are any problems,” advises Shembe-Fumo.
A podiatrist is a health professional who is trained to deal with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot and related lower limb conditions.
Most people can prevent any serious foot problem by following some simple steps. First and foremost, you should work closely with your healthcare provider ie. Physician, General Practitioner, Podiatrist and Dietitian to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
Below are a few additional tips on foot care for diabetics:
- Inspect your feet every day, and seek care early if you do get a foot injury. Make sure your health care provider ie. the podiatrist, completes a full foot exam at least once a year — more often if you have foot problems.
- When inspecting your feet, look out for red spots, cuts, swelling, blisters, corns and calluses.
- Wash your feet every day and dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
- Keep your feet moisturised by applying foot cream on the tops and bottoms of your feet – but not between the toes.
- Cut your toenails straight across – don’t cut in the corners.
- Avoid using corn plasters or any sharp objects to remove corns and calluses.
- Always wear closed shoes and don’t go barefoot.
- Always wear pure cotton socks or stockings to avoid blisters.
- Protect your feet from hot or cold – you can burn your feet without realizing it.
- Keep the blood flowing to your feet – whenever possible, put them up when you’re sitting. Don’t cross your legs for long periods of time.
- Be more active and exercise regularly.
“It is important to purchase well-fitting and comfortable shoes, and lace-up shoes are better for your feet,” advises Shembe-Fumo.
“Shop for shoes towards the end of the day, when your feet are naturally more swollen and bigger, and break in the shoes slowly. Wear them one to two hours each day for the first few weeks – this will help combat blisters.”
Before putting shoes on, check inside the shoe for rough edges and to make sure there is nothing inside.
If you would like more information about better healthcare for Diabetics, please contact any one of the following Clinix Health Group private hospitals: Clinix Private Hospital Soweto (011) 983 0300, Clinix Private Hospital Sebokeng (016) 420 3000, Clinix Private Hospital Vosloorus (011) 863 2400, Victoria Private Hospital (018) 381 2043 or Lesedi Private Hospital (011) 933 5000.
(Source: Clinex Health Group)
South African Podiatry Association (SAPA)