Taking good care of your feet is always important but even more so when you have diabetes. Did you know that 15-25% of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lifetime?
At East Side Primary Medical Care on New York City’s Upper East Side, our skilled primary care provider, Dr. Daniel Klein, specializes in diabetes management. Because we practice preventive health care, we educate our patients with diabetes about the importance of taking good care of their feet.
Here, we want to explain how diabetes affects your feet and why we spend so much time talking about it.
Diabetes and your feet
Diabetes is a complex, chronic disease that affects many areas of the body, including your blood vessels and nerves. The excess sugar in your blood damages blood vessels and is especially harmful to the smaller ones like those in the feet.
This damage affects the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your feet. Lack of nutrient-rich blood to the feet leads to nerve damage.
When you have diabetes and you injure your foot — even something small like a blister — you may not know you have an injury because you can’t feel it. And, because there’s a decrease in blood flow, healing is delayed.
Without proper care, your minor foot injury may quickly turn into an infection that leads to tissue damage and gangrene (tissue death). Foot wounds for people with diabetes may lead to limb amputation. That’s why we spend so much time talking to you about your feet.
At-home foot care
Good foot care for people with diabetes starts at home. We recommend you inspect your feet every day, looking for cuts, swelling, blisters, corns, calluses, and other other potential foot problems. We also want you to inspect your nails for fungal infections.
Wash your feet gently in warm soapy water and pat dry with a soft towel. To prevent cracks in the heels, apply moisturizer to your feet, but not between the toes (too much moisture between your toes may lead to a fungal infection).
We also request that you wear proper fitting shoes with socks and never go barefoot. When trimming your toenails, cut them straight across and then file them to remove sharp edges.
Everyone with diabetes should see a podiatrist at least once a year. The podiatrist can also trim your toenails.
When to schedule an appointment
Foot problems in people with diabetes happen fast, so you never want to delay a visit. You should schedule an appointment with us if you have:
- Pain in your calf, thigh, or buttocks when you’re active
- Tingling, burning, or any other type of pain in your feet
- Numbness in the feet or inability to feel hot or cold temperatures
- Dry or cracked skin on your feet
- Thickened toenails
- Athlete’s foot
- A blister, cut, or sore
- A corn or callus
Getting medical care for your foot issue right away may prevent complications, like a serious infection that leads to an amputation.
Preventive and proactive care is the best thing you can do for your feet when you have diabetes. We can provide all the care you need through our primary care services. We also offer concierge primary care for those looking for more personalized medical management.
Diabetes is a complex disease, but not one you need to manage all on your own. We can help you manage your diabetes and foot care. Call our office or book an appointment online today. Telemedicine appointments are available.