In recent times, diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus has become one of the largest harmful chronic diseases across the world. The main causes of diabetes are the modern day sedentary lifestyle, genetic susceptibility, overdependence on harmful processed and packed foods, obesity and lack of physical activity. The feet of diabetic patients are at risk because diabetes can cause harm to the blood supply and nerves. According to researchers, approximately 383 million people throughout the world were suffering from diabetes in 2013. Diabetes increases the risks of stroke, heart attack, foot ulcers, eye damage and kidney failure.
There are mainly six types of diabetic foot complications like skin changes, neuropathy, calluses, foot ulcers, poor circulation and amputation.
Diabetes can cause dry and cracked skin. It generates changes in the colour of the feet. When the levels of blood glucose become high, the body starts to lose fluid. This happens because the body is transforming the water into urine to surpass additional glucose from the body. The skin becomes dry when the damaged nerves of legs and feet don’t receive a signal to sweat. Sweating aids in keeping skin moist and soft. Broken skin increases the chances of infection as germs can easily enter the skin through the cracked area.
Neuropathy is widely known as peripheral neuropathy. The main causes of neuropathy are repetitive injury, metabolic problems, physical trauma, and infection. Several drugs and toxins can also be the causes of neuropathy. It damages the walls of the tiny blood vessels of the nerves of the legs. It lowers the ability to feel cold, pain and heat. Various other medical conditions that can lead to neuropathy include kidney disease, liver disease, excessive alcohol intake, cancer and HIV.
Calluses on the feet refer to the thickened portion of the skin. They are round, and form at the bony areas just underneath the toes. It often leads to diabetic foot pain that can be caused by too much pressure on the skin. The main causes of calluses are pressure and rubbing.
Poorly fitting shoes can cause calluses on the top of the toes, and excessive running can cause calluses on the sole of the feet.
Prominent bony toes, deformities of the skin and thin skin increase the chances of calluses. Diabetic socks help lower this problem. Calluses must not be ignored because once intensified; they can cause diabetic foot ulcers.
Poor blood circulation occurs when different parts of the body don’t receive adequate blood flow. In diabetic patients, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels. Many times, plaques form in the blood vessels during this situation and the blood vessels can’t supply sufficient amount of blood to the surrounding cells. In peripheral artery disease, people face the problems of poor blood circulation which can also cause serious foot problems.
The symptoms of poor blood circulation are numb feet, cold feet, pale blue colour of the skin of legs, hair loss on the feet, vulnerable toe nails, cracked skin on foot and slow healing of wounds. The other causes of poor circulation are smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Exercise is good for treating poor circulation and stimulates the flow of blood in the feet and legs.
Diabetic foot ulcer is one of the most well-known complications of diabetes mellitus and also one of the most problematic diabetic foot problems. Peripheral artery disease, smoking, diabetic neuropathy, poor glycemic control and ischemia of small blood vessels increase the chance of foot ulcers. Excessive pressure on foot is the main reason of foot ulcer. Neglecting an ulcer can make it larger and imbibe infection deeper into the skin.
Diabetic people are more prone to be amputated than other people. Amputation is a surgical procedure in which parts of the limb like foot, toe are removed due to injury, infection, surgery and disease. In diabetic patients, high blood glucose level can damage the blood vessels. Many times a plaque form in the blood vessels during this situation and the blood vessels cannot supply sufficient amount of blood to the surrounding cells. In peripheral artery disease, people face the problems of inadequate blood circulation which can also cause serious foot problems.
Diabetic feet problems require immense attention as sore heals increase the chances of infection.
Every day, before going to bed give your feet a complete attentive going over to locate the signs of blisters, sores, cuts, scrapes or any small injuries that can lead to a significant problem. If you notice any abnormalities, address it with the doctor the next day. But don’t take things up in your hands and try bathroom surgeries, as this can complicate things further.
Diabetic foot infections can be restricted through regular washing and cleaning. Even health conscious people most of the time skip proper washing of the feet in the shower regularly. A clean foot is a healthy foot. Don’t forget to clean between the toes as cleaning of toes also reduce the chances of infection. The feet remain confined in closed shoes for a long time and the moisture and sweat increases the chances of bacterial infection. If we don’t wash the feet daily it can cause foot odor, other skin problems and fungal infections.
Foot care for diabetic patients should include proper choosing of shoes. Select diabetic socks that fit loosely and positively change socks everyday. Choose the shoes that fit both feet and don’t cause blister or sores on the feet. The patients suffering from foot ulcers should opt for customized shoes that reduce the risk of developing foot ulcers in the future. A good pair of shoes improves the step and also helps reduce pressure on the feet.
One in five people with diabetes will develop serious foot problems that require professional medical treatment. Diabetes usually damages the nerves of the feet and reduce the ability to feel discomfort or pain. Diabetes can cause blood circulation problems that increase the chance of heart attack and stroke. Doctors consider the changes in skin colour and also examine between the toes as many infections can start from there.
The dry foot skin can be cured through the proper use of moisturizer regularly. Regular wearing of sandals and sunny climate lower the chances of foot problems. Cocoa shea butter cream is helpful in reducing the problems of dry foot skin. It is rich in antioxidants, and Vitamin E. Antioxidants protect skin by reducing the production of free radicals that can damage skin cells.
Vitamin E is the most important antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and also help prevent cellular damage from occurring. It also protects and repairs the skin. Cocoa- shea butter cream is effectively used for stretch marks removal. Apply lotion containing cocoa shea butter on the skin of the feet daily.
The foot muscles, like other muscles need daily exercise to remain active for a longer period. Walking puts pressure on the feet. A daily walk helps keep the ligaments and tendons flexible, and also helps strengthen leg muscles. Diabetes usually damages the nerves of the feet that reduce the ability to feel discomfort or pain. Diabetes can also cause blood circulation problems. But regular walking helps in imporving blood circulation and recovering sensation in the feet.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause diabetic neuropathy, anemia, dementia and memory loss. In diabetic patients, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels. Many times a plaque form in the blood vessels during this situation and the blood vessels can not supply a sufficient amount of blood to the surrounding cells. Vitamin B is essential for controlling normal function of blood cells.
B complex vitamins are water soluble vitamins. Also, they play significant roles within the body including immune and nervous system functions. Each B vitamin has specific roles to play, but they all work together to maintain a healthy life. B complex Vitamins increase beauty by improving the state of our hair, skin, and nails. Vitamin B12 also helps regulate our skin’s pigment production and location and also prevents hyperpigmentation.
A clean foot is a healthy foot and diabetic patients can try the above-mentioned foot care procedures to prevent diabetic foot diseases and lead a healthy life.
Image Sources: stopnervepainfast.com, listerinefootsoak.com, soletosoulfootwear.com, webmd.com, fitnessformommies.net.
Deblina Biswas has an M.Sc degree in Nutrition from the University of Osmania and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She loves everything about food and fitness and the fact that she has been able to follow her heart when it comes to her profession. When she is not working, she likes to rustle up delectable concoctions in the kitchen, of course keeping the health quotient intact. She says, everyone just loves her healthy biryani she makes for special occasions. She believes that most ailments can be cured with the right amalgamation of nutrition and fitness.
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