We are proud to provide patients with many valuable services here at our Upland podiatrist office, but perhaps one of the most important is diabetic foot care. Keeping the lower limbs safe requires education and early treatment – especially when an individual has diabetes.
Diabetes affects the body in a variety of ways—including causing alarming damage to vital body systems—but one that is quite easy to overlook is the role it has in foot health and safety.
One of the body systems that can be impacted by the disease is the circulatory system. Diabetes can cause and contribute to peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – a condition marked by constricted blood vessels.
When you stop and consider the fact that the lower appendages are already the farthest points on the body from the heart, it stands to reason that impaired circulation caused by diabetes makes it difficult for feet and toes to receive the nourishment they need.
In addition to restricted blood flow, another condition often accompanying diabetes and putting the body at risk for serious medical emergencies is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can diminish the ability of the body to feel pain and recognize when an injury is present.
Between the two factors, a diabetic individual can sustain a minor wound, be completely unaware of it, and not treat the issue. Given the body’s compromised circulatory and immune systems, the wound will continue to break down if left unaddressed.
A wound that continues to progress is known as a diabetic foot ulcer. Diabetic ulcers are a leading cause of lower limb amputations and have a mortality rate that is higher than the rates for prostate, colon, and breast cancers.
Early treatment can prevent wounds from breaking down to the point of ulceration, which is obviously quite important. Given the impaired sensitivity, a key pillar of a diabetic foot care plan is a daily foot inspection. This careful inspection will alert you to any issues that need to be addressed.
Inspecting your feet on a daily basis is critical. We will certainly provide foot care services when you come see us, but you can actually examine your feet every day. Given the importance of catching problems early—and then seeking care as soon as possible—a daily foot inspection needs to be part of your greater diabetic foot care plan.
The best practice is to inspect your feet carefully and thoroughly every single day.
To help create a consistent routine, you should do this at the same time every day. For many individuals living with diabetes, a daily inspection while getting ready for bed works quite well. If you are unable to see the bottoms of your feet, either use a long-handled mirror or ask a loved one to help.
So now that you have the basics of how to perform a daily foot inspection, what are you looking for? Well, a general rule of thumb is “anything out of the ordinary should be checked out at our office,” but more specifically, you are looking for:
- Cuts, scratches, and scrapes. If you discover issues like these, wash the affected area carefully with running water—and just running water!!—and then apply an antibiotic cream (contact our office for a professional recommendation). If you find redness, oozing, or foul-smelling discharge, these are signs of infection and you should seek immediate medical care!
- Skin issues. Dryness can cause callusing, cracks or fissures in your skin. Do not try to remove a callus on your own! Instead, come see us at the earliest possible opportunity. As noted in the previous point, any redness is a potential sign of infection. Blue and black discoloration on the skin is especially concerning – this is like an indication of a circulation issue and you need emergency care.
- Blisters, corns, calluses, warts, and other bumps or growths. Any abnormality found on the feet has the potential to ultimately cause a dangerous infection. A callus that cracks or blister that bursts can open the door to a potential infection. If you find any of these, come in and see us as soon as possible!
- Ingrown or discolored toenails. When checking your feet, make sure to inspect your toenails as well. An ingrown toenail increases infection risk when it digs into the skin. Discolored toenails typically indicate a fungal infection that requires professional treatment.
If you discover anything out of the ordinary during a daily inspection, come see us as soon as possible.
Speaking of seeing us, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes—or think you may have this disease—contact our office to set up an appointment. Together, we can create a diabetic foot care plan centered on preventative measures, early detection, and treatment to keep your feet safe. Call us for more information at (909) 920-0884 (Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are best for calling).