Why is foot care important if I have diabetes?

Diet and exercise are an important part of treatment of diabetes, but so is foot care. Approximately 15 percent of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer at some point, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Without proper care, foot ulcers can result in complications and, in some cases, amputation.

The good news is that foot ulcers can be prevented–and when they occur, they can be resolved with proper and timely treatment.

Treatment success depends on when you come in for medical attention. The more time that goes by before you get treatment, the worse it will become and the harder it will be to resolve.
This content originally appeared online at Baptist Health South Florida.
Ronald Tamler, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
High blood sugar can damage the nerves that lead to your feet. In this video, Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, explains why you should pay attention to your feet if you have diabetes.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

If your foot gets cut, it can get infected. This matters because diabetes makes infections heal very slowly. If a foot infection gets ahead of you, it can evolve into an ulcer: a nasty, puss-y, gross, open sore. The problem is that many people with diabetes, especially if they've had it for a long time, don't have much sensation in their feet.

It's possible to have a foot ulcer and not feel it at all. So if you don't look at the bottom of your feet, you won't know if you've got one. If a foot ulcer goes to the next level, it becomes gangrene. In med-speak this is called tissue necrosis. Dead flesh. We can't fix dead flesh; it has to be cut off.

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Foot care is especially important for people with diabetes, because they are prone to poor blood circulation and nerve disease in the extremities. In addition, people with diabetes are likely to develop infections that often appear in the feet.

Even small sores can turn into serious problems quickly. Any foot sore or callus should be checked by your diabetes care provider or podiatrist. Don’t try to treat any foot problems yourself.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.