Diabetes is a condition where there is reduced production of, or resistance to, a hormone called insulin in the body. Insulin is responsible for the conversion of glucose (sugar) from food into energy. Inadequate insulin in the body results in high blood glucose levels. Diabetes is a chronic disease which requires careful long term management.
Diabetes Australia estimate that nearly 1 million Australians are currently diagnosed with diabetes, and 275 Australians are developing diabetes each day. Diabetes is a complex disease that can affect many parts of your body, including your feet.
Diabetes and your feet
Diabetes can cause long term damage to nerves and blood supply. For your feet, this means that diabetes can cause two main problems:
- Peripheral neuropathy – nerve degeneration which can result in loss of sensation in the feet, and/or;
- Peripheral vascular disease – narrowing or restriction of blood vessels to the legs and feet.
When to call a Podiatrist
If you have diabetes, even minor or ordinary foot problems can lead to serious complications. For this reason, it is recommended that you see a Podiatrist at least annually and more often if you have any of the following symptoms:
You should be guided by your Podiatrist in the care of your feet, but here are some general recommendations if you have diabetes:
- Inspect your feet every day. Look at and feel each foot for signs of injury including bruises, blisters, broken or cracked skin, hot or cold areas, corns and calluses, and discolouration. If your eyesight is poor get someone else to check your feet for you or use a mirror to inspect the soles of your feet.
- If you find a cut or break in the skin, wash the area with warm salty water, apply an antiseptic and cover with a clean dressing.
- Never try to treat corns and calluses yourself – seek advice from a podiatrist. Do not scrape or cut the callus, or use any other over-the-counter corn and callus preparation.
- People with diabetes should never go barefoot. You should always wear proper, well-fitted socks and shoes in order to prevent injury and protect the feet. The Dr Comfort footwear range for men and women includes many stylish options ideal for diabetic feet.
- Have a foot check-up with your podiatrist every 6 to 12 months.