People living with diabetes can develop sores which occur commonly on their legs (foot ulcers). The pipe that carries blood round the body (arteries) can become narrowed from fat and clot depositing in them. This reduces the blood supply to the feet putting them at risk of breaking down with ulcers.
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About diabetic foot ulcers
Diabetic foot ulcers occurs when your blood sugar is poorly controlled. These ulcers usually does not heal on time and if not treated, bacteria can find their way in there and infect the ulcer. Infected ulcers can turn to gangrene which may lead to amputation of that foot. This disability (amputation) can cause physical, emotional and psychological stress for the individual, relatives and the community.
In light of this, education on foot care for people living with diabetes must start at the point of diagnosis.
Who is at risk of having foot ulcer?
• If your blood sugar is poorly controlled, you may be at risk. You need to understand that high blood sugar affects the eyes and makes people with diabetes have blurred vision. They may step on objects and even cause a laceration (cut) on their toes while cutting their nails without knowing.
Also poor control of blood sugar destroy nerves which normally should help you feel sensation, therefore these set of people may step on hot or cold object without feeling it. Some days after, they may just discover blisters, sores or even discharge oozing out of the foot and at these stage the wound is already infected.
• People with deformed foot are also at risk because the pressure seems to be directed majorly to a particular point on the foot.
How can you prevent foot ulcers?
You need to check your feet daily. This is because high blood sugar destroy nerves and you may not feel any pain if you get injured. Check your feet for any skin changes, sores, blisters, red or black spots, white areas in between toes and any cuts. You can use a mirror to check the underneath of your feet or allow another person who is not diabetic and has no eye disease to do that for you.
Wash your feet daily with warm water. You can check the temperature of the water with your elbow. Clean your feet with a towel after washing and do not forget to dry the spaces in between your toes with the towel.
Do not soak your feet in water at any point in time because this can make the skin of your feet feel dry.
Always use a moisturizer if your skin is dry to prevent cracks which can subsequently lead to ulcer.
Do not cut your nail with blade. You can use a nail cutter and do not cut your nail close to the skin. Cut your nail across and not in a semicircular fashion or allow someone else do that for you.
Never walk bare footed inside or outside the house so as to avoid injury to your feet.
Always wear socks to keep your skin moist. Cotton or wool socks is preferable.
Always check your shoes before you wear them because there may be objects which can cause injury to your feet in them.
Do not wear tight fitted shoes. Wear comfortable shoes and ensure the shoe is covered in front. This will prevent injury to the front of your feet.
Do not wear high heeled shoes because it can put pressure on the bottom of your feet.
When you buy a new pair of shoe, wear it for 1 hour daily until it becomes softened.
Do not apply moisturizer in between your toes.
Eat healthy food, exercise and ensure you take your drugs.
When to raise alarm and see your physician
If you notice any thickened skin area on your feet.
When you notice pain in your feet or any abnormal sensation.
If you notice any of these:
o Any skin changes
o Red spots
o White areas in between your toes
Diabetic foot ulcer is a complication of diabetes which can be prevented by ensuring good blood sugar control with proper care of the feet. This should be started as early as possible after diagnosis is made.
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