Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to your feet. This reduced blood supply can lead to reduced sensation (peripheral neuropathy). With peripheral neuropathy foot injuries do not heal well, and you may not notice foot injuries or breaks in the skin. As diabetes often reduces the blood supply healing can be delayed as well which increases the risks of infection.
Consequently, diabetics are 15 times more likely to have a limb amputated due to gangrene.
Controlling your blood sugar levels reduces the risk of complications. Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol is important too.
Foot care tips if you have diabetes
- See a Podiatrist at least once a year. More often if you have difficulty cutting your nails or develop hard or cracked skin.
- Keep your feet clean and free from infection.
- Ensure your footwear fits well as badly fitting shoes usually create pressure points that can lead to problems.
- Never walk barefoot, especially in the garden or on the beach on holidays and try to avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
- Cut or file your toenails regularly.
- Seek treatment from your Podiatrist if foot blisters or injuries do not heal quickly.
- Treat breakdowns or ulcers urgently, within 24 hours, especially if there is redness or swelling around the area, or in an area where you’ve previously been warned to seek immediate attention.
Stop smoking to protect your feet
If you have diabetes, it’s important to try to stop smoking. Smoking impairs the blood circulation, particularly in people with diabetes. It can seriously worsen foot and leg problems.
When to seek professional help
You should see your Podiatrist or GP urgently if:
- you notice breaks in the skin of your foot, or discharge
- the skin over part or all of the foot changes colour and becomes more red, blue, pale or dark
- you notice extra swelling in your feet where there was a blister or injury