Having too much blood sugar for a longer duration can cause some serious complications including damage to the nerves, kidneys, eyes and blood vessels over time. With all this, we cannot spare our feet from the devastating effect of diabetes. Infact, the foot complications can be so severe at times that they may even lead to amputation (cut off limb), if not taken seriously.
So, DIABETICS! Raise your alarm if you suffer from any of these foot problems;
- Burning, tingling, or painful feet
- Loss of sensation to heat, cold, or touch
- Change of color or shape of your feet
- Loss of hair on the toes, feet, and lower legs
- Thickening and yellowing of the toenails
- Onset of red spots, blisters, sores, ulcers, infected corns, or ingrown toenails.
WHY FOOT COMPLICATIONS ARISE?
Both type 1 and?type 2 diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels and peripheral nerves that can result in problems in the legs and feet. Two main conditions that are responsible for the increased risk of foot problems in people with diabetes are:
1)?Peripheral artery disease?(PAD): Also referred to as ?hardening? of the arteries which may cause decreased delivery of oxygen/blood flow to the lower legs and feet, resulting in ulcers and even gangrene (tissue death which may become a life-threatening condition).
2) Peripheral neuropathy: Refers to damage to the peripheral nerves that may decrease the sensation in the nerves of the legs and feet, making it difficult to perceive injuries due to lack of feeling. Peripheral neuropathy also causes a tingling,?pain, or burning in the involved areas. It may cause the muscles of the feet to work improperly, leading to misalignment of the foot that can put pressure on certain areas of the foot.
It is important to know that in most severe cases, a combination of decreased sensation and reduced blood flow to the feet may occur that may result in ulcers as well.
What are the foot care problems you need to be aware of?
Other potentially serious foot problems that may develop due to diabetes include:
- Cellulitis?(infection of the tissues beneath the skin)
- Osteomylitis?(infection of the bone)
- Sepsis?(infection spreads to the bloodstream)
- Athlete’s foot, a fungus that causes?itching, redness, and cracking. Germs can enter through the cracks in your?skin?and cause an infection.
- Fungal infection of nails causing discolored (yellowish-brown or opaque), thick and brittle nails.
- Calluses (building-up of hard skin), usually on the underside of the foot due to uneven distribution of?weight.
- Corns, building up of hard skin near a bony area of a toe or between toes
- Bunions, when your big toe angles in towards the second toe, resulting in redness and callus in the joint area. Painful and deformed bunion may sometimes even lead to surgery to realign the toes.
- Dry skin
- Foot ulcers, a break in the skin or a deep sore, which can become infected.
- Hammertoes, a toe that is bent because of a weakened muscle. The weakened muscle makes the tendons (tissues that connect muscles to bone) shorter, causing the toes to curl under the feet.
- Ingrown?toenails, where the edges of the nail grow into the skin. They cause pressure and pain along the nail edges. The edge of the nail may cut into the skin, causing redness, swelling, pain, drainage, and infection.
- Plantar warts, are usually painful and may develop singly or in clusters. Plantar warts are caused by a virus that infects the outer layer of skin on the soles of the feet.
Anyone can get the?foot problems?listed above but for people with diabetes, these problems may possibly lead to infection and serious complications and even AMPUTATION. So, it is important to prevent these diabetes related foot problems by good control of?blood sugar?levels combined with appropriate care of the feet.
In our next blog we will talk about the therapeutic products that you can use to have better foot care.