What is a diabetic foot ulcer?
Foot ulcers can occur in anyone, and refer to a patch of broken down skin usually on the lower leg or feet.
When blood sugar levels are high or fluctuate regularly skin that would normally heal may not properly repair itself because of nerve damage.
Even a mild injury can therefore start a foot ulcer.
Why are people with diabetes more likely to get foot ulcers?
People with diabetes may have reduced nerve functioning due to peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
This means that the nerves that usually carry pain sensation to the brain from the feet do not function as well and it is possible for damage to occur to your foot without feeling it.
Treading on something, wearing tight shoes, cuts, blisters and bruises can all develop into diabetes foot ulcers.
Narrowed arteries can also reduce blood flow to the feet amongst some people with diabetes and this can impair the foot’s ability to heal properly. When the foot cannot heal, a foot ulcer can develop.
What are the risk factors for diabetes foot ulcers?
The following can increase the likelihood of developing a foot ulcer:
People who have diabetes for a longer period or manage their diabetes less effectively are more likely to develop foot ulcers. Smoking, not taking exercise, being overweight, having high cholesterol or blood pressure can all increase diabetes foot ulcer risk.
How serious are foot ulcers?
Unfortunately, for some people with diabetes, the end result of a foot ulcer can be amputation. Less serious foot ulcers can still take a long time to heal and be very uncomfortable during this time.
How can I avoid diabetes foot ulcers?
Avoiding diabetes foot ulcers is a matter of taking good care of the feet.
Furthermore, people with diabetes should have their feet checked at least once a year by a doctor or healthcare professional. Recognising symptoms such as reduced feeling and acting on them immediately should help to avoid diabetes foot ulcers.
Footcare & Foot Wear Advice
Wash your feet each day, especially between the toes and dry feet well. Kitchen towel can be useful for between the toes because it is thinner than a towel, dry gently in this area. After washing and drying your feet apply a moisturiser such as Allpresan foam for diabetic feet, CCS cream or Dermatonics cream all over feet and heels.
Moisten a cotton wall ball with Surgical spirit BP and wipe well between the toes, allow time for this to dry.
Always wear clean socks or tights each day and make sure they fit your feet. Make sure they are not too small. Discomfort and painful symptoms can be caused by small socks. It is advisable to wear natural fibres where possible. For hiking or walking holidays wicking socks are a good idea and can be purchased from outdoor equipment shops.
When putting the socks on also pull on the toe end to allow freedom for toes when standing.
When buying new shoes the following factors must be considered. Lenght/width/size/depth/heel height/material and style. The podiatrist may have discussed trainers with you. Asics Kayano or New Balance stability shoes are advised. It is advisable to have your feet measured for for length and width each time. It is best to chose a leather upper as opposed to a synthetic shoe material tends to hold moisture inside the shoe and will not stretch like leather.
Remember the right shoe for the task to be undertaken by your feet is very important.
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