How Diabetes affects your feet

If you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, you may already know it affects your whole body in a variety of ways.

Diabetes affects your feet in a few ways:

  • Circulation – over time diabetes may start impeding the circulation to your feet (decrease the blood supply)
  • Sensation – Diabetes can also reduce the sensation, or feeling, in your feet. This can lead you to stop feeling important sensations such protective pain and pressure.
  • Decreased immunity – You can become more prone to infections which can also take longer to heal.

All the above may occur over a long period of time or sometimes not at all. It is also related to how good your blood sugar control is. If you happen to have reduced circulation, sensation and/or decreased immunity it is very important that you take particular care of your feet. Here are some tips for caring for your feet:

  • Check your feet daily, if you can’t see them, use a mirror or ask a relative. If you notice anything untoward, see your Podiatrist or GP. If small problems are dealt with early, they don’t tend to become big problems.
  • Wash your feet regularly and wear clean socks daily.
  • Alternate your shoes, don’t just use one pair all the time.
  • Exercise regularly – this improves both circulation and blood sugar control
  • Wear shoes and socks when out and about, and if it’s hot – sandals. Remember, you need to protect those feet, they keep you walking!
  • Use an antifungal powder in your shoes or tea tree oil spray to reduce chances of fungal infections.
  • See a Podiatrist regularly – seeing a Podiatrist regularly can ensure your foot care is maintained and any problems are picked up early. Podiatrists also do assessments of your circulation and sensation (usually at least annually) to monitor any changes and advise you on further care or investigation.

Please note, this information is of a general nature and should not replace diagnosis and advice from your Podiatrist or GP during consultation.

What not to do with ingrown toenails

First and foremost, do not self-treat! Many ingrown toenails can easily be managed conservatively, however, often they become worse or infected after trying to fix it yourself. It is advisable to see a Podiatrist as soon as you notice any signs of an ingrown toenail, which may include:

  • Pain along the side of the nail
  • Redness and swelling of the skin surrounding the nail
  • In later stages, you may see some pus and/or bleeding from the skin alongside the nail

If you suspect you have an ingrown toenail, it is suggested you:

  • See a Podiatrist as soon as possible
  • See your GP if you suspect infection (pus and extreme redness) as it may need antibiotics
  • Bathing your toe in a bowl of lukewarm water with a tablespoon of salt daily may help
  • Applying an appropriate antiseptic, such as Betadine® (if you are allergic to Betadine® or iodine, use another type of antiseptic which you are familiar with) and a dressing to cover the site may also help

If it is a true ingrown toenail, it will usually not resolve completely unless the intruding piece of nail is cleared from the skin, which can generally not be achieved by treating it yourself. A Podiatrist can commonly treat an ingrown toenail conservatively if it is seen early enough.

Please note, this information is of a general nature and should not replace diagnosis and advice from your Podiatrist or GP during consultation.