People with diabetes are at a heightened risk of amputation of the foot or toe.

People with diabetes suffer from a wide variety of complications, one of which is a higher risk of diabetic foot ulcers. That’s because the chronic metabolic disease causes nerve damage and narrowed arteries as well as weakened immune system – all factors that hinder the healing process. Those who don’t properly care for their wounds put themselves at risk of amputation, as limbs that turn gangrenous from infected lesions often must be removed so that the necrosis does not spread to other parts of the body. That’s why it’s so important for people with diabetes to take special care of their feet, such as with these three preventative measures:

Inspect

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that people with diabetes check their feet every day. Set aside a specific time to conduct a daily inspection of your feet to look for cuts, blisters, calluses, red spots, swelling and other abnormalities. A mirror can be handy in checking the bottoms of your feet for diabetic foot ulcers, and if you still have trouble seeing all parts of your feet, ask a friend or family member to help. Additionally, you should have your podiatrist check your feet at least once per year, and have the specialist send your exam results to other clinicians you see.

Protect

Be sure to wash your feet every day to defend your feet against infected wounds. Use mild soap in tepid water (avoid hot water, which can cause scalding and blisters). After washing your feet, dry thoroughly. While many people might turn to talcum powder to keep the feet dry, the best option for diabetics is actually lotion – keeping the skin smooth and pliable can protect you against fissures. Don’t run the lotion between your toes, as this creates a moist breeding ground for bacteria. Lotions specifically geared for diabetic patients are available, though you should consult a clinician before using this product.

Prevent

Diabetes can cause elevated blood glucose levels. This is what leads to nerve damage, a symptom of the metabolic condition that can cause a loss of sensation in the feet. When you have trouble feeling your feet, it can be difficult to notice when you have a lesion, which is a main factor in why diabetic foot ulcers often go uncared for and why some patients lose limbs to gangrene. You can prevent loss of sensation and reduce your risk of amputation by keeping your blood sugar levels in check. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan closely, and be sure to seek medical attention if you find an abnormality on the feet that persists.

You can also prevent injuries to the feet by selecting proper footwear and wearing socks at all times. Your shoes should be comfortable and snug to avoid rubbing that can cause lesions. Additionally, check the insides of your shoes before putting them on to make sure there are no objects in them.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.