“Diabetic foot” is the name of the foot that due to diabetes has an increased risk of inflammation, ulcers (wounds) and tissue damage. Foot sores are common in diabetics and are estimated to affect 15% of patients during their lifetime.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that affects every organ. The main complications of the disease are three: neuropathy, vascular disease and reduced resistance to infections. The result is that wounds are more difficult to close in diabetics and this affects the feet more often, especially from the ankle and below, the toes and soles.
“Diabetic foot” is common because neuropathy causes loss of consciousness. The patient may not feel pain from a trauma to his leg and this may develop into an ulcer. A chronic condition can follow as the patient does not feel discomfort to take action. Ulcers can be infected by a germ and spread. This not only results in long-term treatment but also creates a threatening condition because due to some anatomical properties the effects are more destructive to the foot than other parts of the body. The end result may be amputation of the limb. Worldwide, every 30 seconds a foot is lost due to diabetes, while in Greece up to 3,000 amputations are performed per year. Therefore, prevention of leg ulcers is very important for diabetics.
How can a diabetic understand that something is wrong with his foot and what is the right foot care?
1. First of all, diabetic foot is more common when there is no glucose regulation therapy. Good regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipids, as well as smoking cessation, reduce the risk of developing diabetic foot.
2. You should wash your feet every day with lukewarm water and check your soles often with a mirror. Dry them well, especially between the fingers. If the foot is dry, use a moisturizer. There are ointments with urea 5-10% or more but do not use them between the fingers as these areas should be dry.
3. If you notice that your sole is damaged, e.g. a slit, you must report it immediately to the attending physician. If the color of your foot changes at some point, e.g. where it is pink it becomes blue or black, this may be a first sign that something is wrong. You should see your doctor if your foot hurts, if it gets hot at some point, if it smells bad, and if there are blisters or calluses that are growing.
4. Treat calluses with pumice stone and not with sharp objects e.g. razors or scissors. If the callus does not recede, it must be removed. Doctors often notice foot damage after removing a callus.
5. Sometimes the nails become hard. Try to cut them in a straight line to reduce the risk of scratches.
6. Do not wear too tight socks and prefer those that do not have seams.
7. Shoes should not be tight because friction can cause problems. Things that are sharp, slippers, those that leave fingers, plastics and high heels should be avoided. You prefer the ones that have a good fit but are comfortable as well as the sports ones. Buy your shoes not in the morning but in the afternoon because then the foot is a little swollen. Note that there are diabetic shoes on the market that are quite stylish today. These shoes have a soft leather inner lining without seams and a thicker bottom. Not everyone needs such a shoe, only those who have an increased risk of neuropathy and a history of ulcers.
8.Finally, you should not walk barefoot in the summer on the beach because you may not feel how hot the sand is and get a burn. Also, do not approach your feet in radiators or fireplaces to keep warm because you may not notice the high temperature and burn.