Patients with diabetes face special concerns when it comes to foot care and health. Two conditions associated with the disease—neuropathy and poor circulation—make what would be minor problems in most of our patients, major health threats. Neuropathy can cause a decrease or loss of sensation making it difficult to feel pain and other symptoms that would alert you to a problem. Poor circulation means that once there is an issue healing is impaired. That’s why we at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group urge our diabetic patients to be particularly vigilant about inspecting their feet daily. Here are some foot problems to be on guard for:
- Corns, calluses and blisters—a decreased ability to perceive pain means a diabetic patient may not notice a blister, corn or callus until it has become irritated to the point where it’s an open sore. Once this occurs there is an increased risk of infection which can travel to the bone. Healing can be very difficult.
- Ingrown toenails—if nails are trimmed too short or with curved edges they may start to grow back into the skin around the nail bed. This can open the way for bacteria to enter the body.
- Hammertoes and bunions—nerve damage can affect muscles causing weakness and loss of tone. Without the normal support muscles provide, joints can move out of place leading to these deformities.
- Dry/Cracked skin—poor circulation can cause dry skin. Staying on top of this condition by applying a rich emollient moisturizer can prevent cracks from forming which can become open wounds that are prone to infection.
- Athlete’s foot—neuropathy may also make it difficult to feel itching, a prime symptom of athlete’s foot. If undetected, this bacterial infection will spread and form blisters, once again opening up the diabetic patient to infection and ulcers.
Fortunately, many of these foot conditions can be prevented with self-examination and regular visits to the foot doctor. If you have diabetes, speak to one of our podiatrists, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight or Dr. Marzana Mleczko about specific steps you should take to protect your feet and prevent ulcers and infection. To make an appointment at our Valley Stream or Lake Success office, contact us at: (516) 825-4070 or (516) 327-0074.