These complications can present themselves on the feet with changes in skin colour, poor skin integrity, numbness, altered sensation, slow healing wounds and non-healing wounds. In severe cases whereby gangrene has occurred, amputation may be the last resort.
Hence the importance on taking good care of your feet is paramount. Some of the tips below help to ensure your feet are well looked after to minimise risk of complications.
Perform simple exercises such as:
Move the ankles in a circular motion and wiggle the toes when in seated position. Imagine drawing a very big circle with your feet in the clockwise and counter clockwise direction.
Stand on the toes and lift the heel a few times every minute.Avoid wearing tight socks or stockings.
Wear well-padded shoes with open toes (sport sandals) or a deep toe box (the part of the shoe that surrounds the toes) closed in shoes. If necessary, have the shoes stretched in the area where corns or calluses – an accumulation of dead skin layers – are likely to occur. Use doughnut-shaped pads over corns to lower pressure and friction. Consult your podiatrist on a selection of diabetic footwear that may be available on the market.
When purchasing footwear, it should feel comfortable immediately when trying them out.
Apply emollient/moisturiser cream to corns or calluses to soften them. Do not trim corns or calluses with a razor blade or other sharp tool to avoid accidental cuts and infection.
A pumice stone or fine foot file can also be used around the heels if the skin is thickened or dry. Wash feet daily. Dry them thoroughly and use a cream to prevent cracks that can lead to infections.
Do not use cream on the area between the toes to avoid fungal growth. Use a soft bristle brush or toothbrush to clean the area between the toes.
If you can get down to your feet, check them daily ensuring there aren’t any cuts, bruises or injury. If you are not able to get down to your feet or have poor vision, try to get assistance from someone at home to assist you.
Visit your podiatrist at least once a year for a diabetic foot assessment or on a more regular basis depending on your foot condition after consultation with your podiatrist.
Do not delay seeking help for a foot problem. Early intervention is crucial for people living with diabetes: about one in four diabetic patients will develop foot ulcers. Without treatment and if complications occur, amputation may be necessary.