Every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone loses a lower limb as a
result of diabetes. That's because diabetes and wounds are a dangerous
If you have diabetes, there's no such thing as a minor wound to the foot --
even a small foot sore can turn into an ulcer that, if not properly treated,
can lead to amputation. The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10
times higher than for those who don't have the disease.
Does the light touch of a bed sheet make your feet burn? Does your heart sometimes race when you’re resting? Do you have problems with sexual arousal?
As different as these symptoms are, they can all have the same cause: diabetic nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. About half of people with diabetes develop nerve damage. The two most common forms are:
peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves that serve the farthest reaches of the body, such as the legs and hands;
Most of these amputations could easily be prevented with good foot care and
wound treatment. "You can't always prevent an ulcer, but you can almost
always prevent an amputation," says Harold Brem, director of the Wound
Healing Program at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Here's what you need to know about preventing foot sores and treating them
in order to avoid an amputation.
Diabetes and Wounds: Prevention Matters
People with diabetes are at increased risk for complications from wound
healing for several reasons. First, diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries
are slower to heal than in people who do not have the disease. Second, many
people with diabetes also have neuropathy -- reduced sensation in their hands
or feet -- which means they don't necessarily notice an injury right away.
Why are feet at more risk for diabetes wounds? Because feet just take more
of a beating in our daily lives than hands do, and we don't look at them as
often, so it's harder to spot a wound.
5 Tips for Preventing Foot Sores
The best way to prevent wound complications is to prevent the wound in the
first place. You do that by taking good care of your feet. Top ways to keep
your feet in good health include:
Check your feet every single day, and wash them with mild soap and
water. (Be sure to check the water temperature first.) Make it part of your
daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.
Dry your feet well. Moisture retained between the toes can
cause skin breakdowns.
Be cautious in nail salons. Though some specialists recommend
avoiding salons and having your nails cut only by a podiatrist, others simply
urge caution. "You want to make sure the salon's certification is current
and visible," says Brunilda Nazario, MD, a diabetes specialist and senior
medical editor for WebMD.
And ask when the salon was last inspected by
the state, Nazario says. Before treatment, watch to see that the tools are
properly sanitized. They should be freshly unwrapped or have just been removed
from heat or chemical sterilization -- if it's not clear, ask. If you choose,
you could also bring your own nail files.Will you be using a foot spa? Find out
whether it's been cleaned and disinfected. "These precautions aren't just
for people with diabetes," Nazario says, "They apply to
Keep your feet from drying and cracking with regular applications of
foot cream. You don't need a special cream -- any moisturizer available at your
drugstore, like Aquaphor, Cetaphil, and Eucerin, will work.
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