When you’re one of the nearly 15% of adults in the United States who have diabetes, you’re at risk for serious complications involving your feet. At first, the connection between high blood sugar and foot health may not seem intuitive. But uncontrolled blood glucose damages veins and arteries, including those in your feet.
Your feet and legs have more of a challenge when it comes to circulation than the rest of your body does, simply because they’re at the bottom of your body and must push blood upward with more force. In addition, your feet may be difficult for you to reach and inspect them.
You may assume that you don’t need to inspect your feet because you don’t feel pain. But when diabetes destroys your blood vessels, this affects nerve transmission, too. You could have a festering wound or blister that’s in danger of becoming infected, but you could never feel a thing.
If you do identify a wound or blister, particularly one that’s not healing, it’s important to get medical diabetic foot care. You must also carefully attend to your wound and help it to heal in order to avoid complications, which can include amputation. Diabetes is responsible for almost 80% of non-traumatic foot and leg amputations in the US.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, our board-certified podiatrists are experts in monitoring and treating diabetic feet. We have offices throughout Utah where we ensure that your feet stay as healthy as possible through regular visits and diabetic foot care.
If you do have a wound or ulcer on your foot, however, you must take special care to help it heal. Following are some tips.
Control your blood sugar
The most important thing you can do to preserve the health of your feet and aid in wound healing is to control your blood sugar. Focus on a whole-foods diet with plenty of vegetables and fiber. Avoid sugary beverages, foods with added sugar, and refined grains like white bread and snack chips.
Exercise is another important component of diabetes health and blood glucose control. If your feet hurt too much for walking or running, consider biking or swimming instead.
Work with your doctor or endocrinologist to keep your blood sugar under control. If you have type 1 diabetes, be sure you take your insulin as prescribed.
Cleanse your feet daily
Whether you have a wound or not, it’s especially important to keep your feet clean and dry. If you do develop an ulcer or wound, you want to keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
Use a gentle, non-drying cleanser. Be sure to wash and dry between each of your toes, too. Washing and drying your feet also gives you an opportunity to take a close look to identify any new wounds or blisters.
Keep your wound covered and moist
Contrary to prior advice to keep wounds exposed to the air, we now know that wounds heal best when they remain moist and covered. After gently cleansing your wound, apply any ointment that we’ve prescribed to aid healing. Then reapply the bandage. Avoid walking barefoot at all times.
Don’t try to self-treat with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. These substances can further damage your skin. And though it’s important to keep the wound itself moist and under its bandage, avoid soaking your feet or using a whirlpool or bath.
Offload your weight
Your feet bear the brunt of your entire body weight. If you have a wound on the bottom of your foot, that amount of stress is too extreme to promote good healing.
You may need special bandaging or customized shoe inserts (orthotics) to keep the weight off the ulcer or wound. In some instances, you could benefit from a brace or walking assistance to avoid stressing the wound.
Wounds often accumulate dead skin cells and debris that must be removed, a process called debridement. Debridement also helps the wound heal faster, but must always be performed by a medical professional.
Regular visits to your podiatrist are especially important when you have an ulcer or wound on your foot. But after it heals, be sure to see your podiatrist at least a couple of times a year to monitor foot health and identify any problems early.
Do you have diabetes or a wound on your foot? Get help keeping your diabetic feet healthy and whole by calling our team at the location nearest you, or simply book online today.