We know that diabetes has an effect on blood glucose but many of us are unaware of the problems that it can cause for our feet.
Dry skin (anhidrotic)
Diabetes can cause dry (anhidrotic) skin which is more likely to crack and / or split which in turn, can become infected. Moisturising the feet on a daily basis can reduce the risk of this happening.
Change in shape of the foot (extensor substitution)
It’s hard to imagine that diabetes can cause a change to our foot shape but it is fairly common. The lesser toes can retract causing areas of higher pressure at the base of the toes. As the toes retract, the natural fatty pad that lies underneath these joints is displaced forward which further increases the pressure under these joints. The additional pressure increases the risk of ulceration particularly if the person has neuropathy (nerve damage that can cause pain, numbness or weakness).
Hard skin is caused by pressure and it is important to have the hard skin removed by a Podiatrist on a regular basis. Moisturising on a daily basis can also help to reduce the build up of hard skin.
Lack of sensation (neuropathy)
Neuropathy causes a lack of sensation to the feet meaning that we are often unaware if we stand on a sharp object or if there is a break in the skin. If you have neuropathy, it is advisable to wear shoes at all times, even around the home to protect the feet. Inspect your feet on a daily basis to check for any changes or breaks in the skin. If you do have a break in the skin, it is important to see a Podiatrist as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become infected.
In conclusion, complications in the diabetic foot can be reduced by regularly applying moisturiser to the feet, visiting a Podiatrist for regular foot care, wearing appropriate footwear and remaining vigilant when checking your feet.