Diabetic Foot Care
You’ve likely heard the story of a little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in a hole in the dike so it wouldn’t get bigger and collapse the levee. For someone with diabetes, stopping diabetic foot problems when they are small is crucial to heading off bigger issues, too. So many complications of this disease can appear in the legs and feet, and it’s imperative to keep your feet healthy enough to do your normal daily activities. The podiatrists at Waukesha Foot Specialists offer the kind of care that helps keep you on your feet.
Diabetes Complicates Your Foot Health
This condition, which is an inability of your body to control the level of glucose in your blood, has many complications that show up in your feet. Unregulated sugar levels can damage the nerves (neuropathy), making it hard to feel heat, cold, or pain from an injury. It impedes circulation, meaning that not enough oxygen and nutrients are reaching your feet to build strong tissues or repair them. It can also compromise your immune system: your feet can get infected more easily and take longer to heal.
Watch for these Issues in Your Feet
Take time to care for your feet. Wash and dry them every day, and inspect them carefully for any red spots, bruises, bumps, cracks, or blisters. Diabetes can cause changes in your skin, making it drier and less supple. Moisturize your feet right after drying, but not between your toes where it could cause an environment for bacteria and fungus to grow. Calluses form at the point of friction, so that may give you a clue that you need different shoes. You can try gently rubbing calluses with pumice stone, but don’t try to cut them off – that could lead to injury and infection. Be especially careful if you plan on scheduling a pedicure, and make sure the salon you visit knows you have diabetes. Foot deformities like bunions or hammertoes can also cause calluses and corns. Talk to us about solutions for those problems.
Another common problem many diabetics face in their lower limbs is peripheral neuropathy. When diabetes isn’t managed properly, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. This can mean a burning or tingling sensations, or even numbness. If your feet are numb, make sure to pay even more attention to your feet since they can’t let you know when there’s a problem.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
You may also notice difficulties with your circulation – cold feet, or pain when you climb hills or exercise. Wear warm socks rather than using heating pads or soaking in hot water to warm your feet. Treat poor circulation by not smoking, watching your cholesterol and blood pressure, and exercising as able to increase your blood flow. Most importantly, keep strict control of your blood sugar levels to head off diabetic complications.
The Goal: Avoid Foot Ulcers
Any break in the skin of a diabetic is cause for concern. This small “hole in the dike” could grow into serious problems, including infection, gangrene and amputation. See us as soon as you detect a lesion. We can use X-rays to see if there is bone damage, and biopsy it to determine whether antibiotics are needed. If you have a sore on the ball or heel of your foot, don’t walk on it. It needs protections and time to heal.
For diabetic foot problems or any other difficulties with your feet, let Dr. David Guhl and Dr. Amy-Miller Guhl give you expert care in the Waukesha area. Call (262) 544-0700, or contact us online to set up an appointment.