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Why Diabetics Should Pay Extra Attention to Their Foot Care

When you think about cultivating a diabetes-friendly lifestyle, it’s easy to think of the foods you eat and of monitoring your blood sugar. And while your diet and blood sugar levels are undoubtedly vital, they’re far from the only concerns.

While managing diabetes, your foot health should be among your top priorities. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to stave off diabetes-related foot problems — and simple practices go a long way.

At Oexeman Foot and Ankle, PLLC, in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Stephanie Oexeman and our team diagnose and treat diabetic foot conditions to help you better thrive.

If you have diabetes, read on to learn why caring for your feet is important, plus smart ways to do so.

How high blood sugar affects your feet

Diabetes interferes with the way your body creates or uses the hormone insulin. As a result, you can develop chronically high blood sugar, also called glucose. When your blood sugar levels frequently spike or stay high, a range of issues can impact nerves, blood vessels, and tissues throughout your body.

For these reasons, diabetes is linked with numerous issues in your feet, including:

  • Reduced blood flow to your feet
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Slow-healing ulcers

Diabetic foot ulcers paired with nerve damage can be quite dangerous. If you lose sensation in your feet, you may not notice a small cut or injury. From there, you run the risk of an infection that can spread. In severe cases, this can lead to the need for foot amputation.

How to avoid diabetic foot problems

Serious foot conditions aren’t a given when you have diabetes. Because you hold a heightened risk, however, developing habits that keep your feet healthy is crucial. 

For starters, follow your doctor-recommended treatment plan, including lifestyle changes and taking your diabetes medication as prescribed. Meanwhile, aim to see a foot and ankle specialist at least once each year. Beyond annual checkups, schedule an exam any time you notice unusual symptoms, such as discoloration or tingling sensations in your feet.

Additional diabetes foot care habits to embrace include:

  • Cleaning your feet in lukewarm water daily
  • Checking for foot abnormalities daily
  • Keeping your toenails clean and trimmed 
  • Never removing corns or calluses yourself
  • Wearing compression stockings for any foot or ankle swelling
  • Wearing supportive, comfortable shoes outdoors
  • Wearing supportive shoes or slippers indoors (versus going barefoot)

If your feet tend to sweat a great deal, apply an antiperspirant to the bottoms of your feet. Wearing a clean pair of socks each day can also help keep your feet healthy and infection-free.

If you notice a minor cut on your foot, keep it clean, dry, and protected as it heals. Top an actively bleeding wound with gauze or a clean cloth and apply firm pressure with your hand. If the bleeding continues for up to 30 minutes, seek professional wound care.

To learn more about diabetic foot care or get the treatment or support you need, call our office or book an appointment online today.