Diabetic Foot Conditions
Why are people with diabetes prone to foot ulcers?
Foot ulcers are more common if you have diabetes because one or both of the following complications can develop:
- Reduced sensation of the skin on your feet
- Narrowing of blood vessels going to the feet
Your nerves may not work as well as normal because even a slightly high blood sugar (glucose) level can, over time, damage some of your nerves (neuropathy). Read more about diabetic neuropathy.
If you have diabetes you have an increased risk of developing narrowing of the blood vessels (arteries), known as peripheral arterial disease. The arteries in the legs are quite commonly affected. This can cause a reduced blood supply (poor circulation) to the feet. Skin with a poor blood supply does not heal as well as normal and is more likely to be damaged.
Have your feet regularly examined by a chiropodist
Most people with diabetes are reviewed at least once a year by a doctor and other health professionals. Part of this review is to examine the feet to look for problems such as reduced sensation or poor circulation. If any problems are detected then more frequent feet examinations will usually be recommended.
Treatment of Diabetic Foot Conditions
As a rule, the better the control of your diabetes, the less likely you are to develop complications such as foot ulcers. Also, where appropriate, treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol level and reducing any other risk factors will reduce your risk of diabetic complications. In particular, if you smoke, you are strongly advised to stop smoking.
What A Chiropodist / Podiatrist will do:
You should tell your doctor or a person qualified to diagnose and treat foot disorders (a podiatrist - previously called a chiropodist) straightaway if you suspect an ulcer has formed. Treatment aims to dress and protect the ulcer, to prevent or treat any infection and also to help your skin to heal.
- The ulcer is usually covered with a protective dressing
- A nurse or podiatrist will normally examine, clean and re-dress the ulcer regularly
- A podiatrist may need to remove any hard skin that prevents the ulcer from healing. Also, depending on the site and size of the ulcer, they may protect it from further injury by using padding to take the pressure off the area
- You may also be advised to wear special shoes or have a cast made for your foot to keep the pressure off the ulcer
- Antibiotics will be advised if the ulcer or nearby tissue becomes infected
- Sometimes a small operation is needed to drain pus and clear dead tissue if infection becomes more severe
For further information
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