Diabetes affects the feet in several ways. First, because diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in the feet, it can be much more difficult for patients to feel sensations in their feet, making it more likely their feet will become injured and those injuries will go unnoticed for an extended period of time. Second, diabetes can also cause changes in the skin, making it more likely to become damaged or injured. And third, people with diabetes tend to have circulation problems, which means the healing response is suppressed and sores take much longer to resolve, leaving the foot open to an increased risk of infection. Diabetes-related skin and circulatory changes can also make diabetics more prone to other types of infection, including infections from ingrown toenails and even fungal infections.
Diabetic foot care is very important to look for changes in the skin or other issues that could make a skin infection more likely. Even a relatively minor issue like an ingrown toenail can result in a dangerous infection and even increase the risk of amputation if not caught and treated right away. Podiatrists are trained in advanced techniques aimed at identifying diabetes-related foot problems in their earliest stages, and in providing treatment and guidance to help patients resolve and prevent problems to help maintain good foot health.
Support hose may help with some types of circulation issues, but they need to be prescribed by a podiatrist to ensure the right amount of compression is applied to the foot and ankle. Over-the-counter compression socks and stockings can provide improper amounts of compression that can be ineffective or even harmful for some patients.
One of the best ways to prevent foot problems related to diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels under control. Conducting routine foot checks is also important, and seeing a podiatrist on a routine basis can help ensure feet stay as healthy as possible.
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