Tackling diabetic foot ulcers should feature among the top priorities for those suffering from chronic diabetes. Despite it being a controllable situation, complications triggered by unattended foot ulcers and lacerations could have serious complications which could even lead to diabetic foot infection, gangrene and amputation of the limb.
Diabetic gangrene is when localised death and decomposition of body tissue occur due to vascular issues mainly related to blood circulation. Unfortunately, it results in serious infections and quite often amputation could be the only option left if proper medical assistance is not sought on time. It becomes even more serious in the case of people with diabetes; due to compromised neural impulses, often small cuts and bruises on the feet go unnoticed until they become infected.
Dr V Mohan, chairman and chief of diabetology at Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre points out to Happiest Health that he has come across several cases where people with diabetes walk around for hours with a sharp object like a nail in their shoes without realising it.
“The foot had been pierced many times, but the person is unaware until it really hurts and inflicts serious injury – to a potential level of an infection,” says Dr Mohan.
However, the best part is that it can be prevented and better managed before it goes to extreme levels warranting drastic measures like an amputation.
Take proper care of the feet
Ensure proper foot hygiene. Always wash your feet and keep them clean, especially after going outdoors. Also make it a point to keep the feet dry after washing as dampness, especially between the toes could trigger fungal infections. It is also advised to apply talcum powder after properly cleaning and drying the feet after washing them. Moisturisers could be applied on the dry skin of the feet but never to the crevices between the toes to avoid any chances of any infection.
Always wear footwear and socks
People with diabetes should never step outside without proper footwear. It is also advised to have a pair of indoor slippers also for added safety even at home. Often minor injuries and cuts sustained while walking without proper footwear are attributed as the main reason for developing diabetic foot ulcers and serious infections. It has also been pointed out that even exposure to dust and climatic conditions could lead to skin lesions and as much as possible people should wear socks while going out.
Choose the right kind of footwear and socks
Deciding to wear footwear is not enough when it comes to dealing with diabetic foot ulcers; people must choose the right style, size and kind of footwear and socks. Expert diabetologists point out that we should never opt for tight-fitting footwear and should choose slightly loose ones as it minimises the chances of chaffing of the skin due to friction between the skin and the shoes. The same goes for socks also; loose-fitting ones should be chosen. Open footwear should be avoided as it ends up exposing the feet to the elements and increases the risk of any minor injuries. Exclusive footwear models and socks for those with diabetes are also available in the market.
External symptoms to watch out for
Never take any injury, cut, bruise or infection on the feet lightly. If you have diabetes, then it should be brought to the notice of your doctor as soon as possible. Always watch out for these symptoms – deformed nails, nail infections, cramps in lower legs, pain, poor wound healing, tingling sensation and fungal infections between the toes. All these could indicate either some vascular (blood flow) condition or a precursor to diabetic foot ulcers.
Do periodic DIY feet checks at home
Medical experts point out that those with diabetes should do a self-examination of their feet at home regularly, preferably every fortnight. Check for any sensation of pain by cleaning the feet with a piece of cotton with a few drops of antiseptic on it. Keep your eyes closed and always if there is a sensation of pain, then check that spot carefully as there are chances of a minor bruise or a cut there. Also always keep your feet clean and dry regularly.
Maintain blood sugar levels and do periodic check-ups
Make sure that thorough feet examination is included in your routine check-ups at the hospital. Always try to follow a healthy diet to keep blood sugar at optimum levels. It would also be ideal if extra care and precaution are taken during daily exercise routines to avoid any chances of suffering foot blisters or injuries.