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Diabetes and the Feet

For people who have diabetes, common foot problems can have serious complications, including losing a toe, a foot, or even a leg. In fact, diabetes is the main reason for amputation of a toe, a foot, or a leg not caused by a traumatic injury.

World Diabetes Day is 14 November, making this month a great time to look at ways to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and to focus on diabetes management to help prevent diabetic complications, including blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, and other health problems.

Here at Health Edco, we have an innovative line of diabetes education materials that focuses on diabetes awareness, management, and prevention.

Last year in honor of World Diabetes Day, our November article focused on the A1C test for diabetes. This year, we are taking a closer look at how uncontrolled diabetes can affect the feet. Read on to learn more about how diabetes can cause foot problems, how people with diabetes can care for their feet, and some of our diabetes education resources that teach about diabetic foot complications.

How Can Diabetes Affect the Feet?

High blood glucose (sugar) can damage the nerves in the feet. If you have diabetes, you may not be able to feel minor foot injuries, such as a cut or a blister. As a result, you may be unaware of any problems. Diabetes also can damage your blood vessels, causing poor blood flow to your feet. A sore on your foot might not heal properly and progress into a foot ulcer. Without proper intervention and treatment, a minor foot injury can become severely infected, leading to gangrene, the death of tissue. Amputation of a toe, a foot, or even a leg may be necessary.

Our Effects of Diabetes Display depicts a diabetic
foot and other complications of uncontrolled diabetes.

What Are Some Warning Signs of Foot Trouble?

Any concerns about the feet should be brought to the attention of your GP or diabetes specialist. Some warning signs to look for include:

  • Very cold legs or feet

  • Pain in the legs while walking or resting

  • Swelling in the foot or ankle

  • Dry, cracked, or flaking skin

  • Calluses

  • Fungal infections

  • Thick, yellow toenails

  • Ingrown toenails

  • Changes in the shape of the feet

  • Open sores

  • Wounds that won’t heal

  • Red, blue, or black discolouration

How Can I Protect My Feet?

Having a regular foot care regimen is extremely important for people who have diabetes to prevent serious complications, such as infection and gangrene. Keep in mind: Most diabetic amputations start with a foot ulcer but can be prevented with proper care and treatment.

  • Follow your recommended meal and physical activity plans, take any medications as prescribed, keep all healthcare appointments, and don’t smoke.

  • Work with your GP and diabetes care team to manage your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

  • Make sure your diabetes care team regularly checks your feet.

  • Examine your feet every day. Look for anything unusual, including cuts, sores, swelling, redness, or infected toenails. Use a mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet if you have trouble bending over.

  • Keep your feet clean by washing them in warm, not hot, water, and make sure to dry all surfaces, including between your toes. Use cornstarch between your toes to keep the area dry. Rub a small amount of cream, lotion, or petroleum jelly into the tops and bottoms of your feet but not between your toes because it might lead to infection.

Our Diabetes Consequences 3-D Display includes a diabetic foot model
and seven other potential health consequences of uncontrolled diabetes.

  • Consult your diabetes care team for treatment of corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails. Follow your diabetes care team’s recommendations.

  • Trim your toenails straight across, and use a nail file or emery board to smooth them.

  • Wear shoes and socks at all times, including indoors. Select shoes and socks that fit you properly. Check your shoes for any objects or changes to the lining that might cause irritation.

  • Select shoes and socks that protect your feet from the heat and cold. Do not put hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.

  • Promote blood flow to your feet. Put your feet up when you are sitting. Wiggle your toes for 5 minutes 2–3 times a day, and move your ankles in and out and up and down.

Immediately contact your GP or diabetes specialist if a sore or other foot problem does not begin to heal within 1 day.

Health Edco Diabetic Foot Models

Our diabetic foot models are great teaching tools to explain the importance of the proper care of diabetic feet to prevent diabetic complications.

Depicting diabetic ulcers and dry, cracked skin, our Diabetic Foot Model
is a great teaching tool to show the importance of diabetic foot care.

Made of realistic BIOLIKE™ material that feels like real tissue, our Diabetic Foot Model depicts four lifelike wounds in various stages of development: a stage 1 ulcer, a stage 2 ulcer, a stage 3–4 ulcer, and a crack under the fold of a toe. The model is an ideal resource to teach about the role of daily foot self-exams for any foot injuries or abnormalities, such as blisters, calluses, infections, discolouration, swelling, thickened or discoloured nails, and dry or cracked skin. The model comes with an instruction card and protective carrying case.

With unflinching accuracy, our Severe Diabetic Foot Model shows
the devastating toll unmanaged diabetes can take on the feet.

Also made of soft BIOLIKE™ material and coming with an instruction card and carrying case, our Severe Diabetic Foot Model depicts what can happen when diabetic foot damage turns to gangrene. In unflinching, realistic detail, the model features an amputated big toe, severe infection and gangrene, swelling and redness from infection, a severe foot ulcer, a pressure point irritation leading to an ulcer, and irritation to the toes. The model also can be used to explain Charcot foot, a foot deformity that can develop because of an undetected injury to the foot. Symptoms may include a red, swollen, or warm foot. Sometimes, a collapsed arch may result. If Charcot foot becomes severe, surgery or amputation may be necessary.

Our Diabetic Foot Model and Severe Diabetic Foot Model are available individually, or you can enjoy savings by purchasing them together as the Diabetic Foot Model Set!

Learn More

If you have any questions about diabetes and your feet, talk to your GP or diabetes specialist. Always follow the recommendations of your diabetes care team for diabetic foot care.

To learn more about our diabetes education resources, please visit our Diabetes Education Materials & Models Section.

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