Foot Pain Part 5
Corns, Calluses, Diabetic Foot Ulcers
How to Treat a Diabetic Foot
What do your feet have to do with diabetes, you ask? A lot.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can deaden your nerves and clog up the cardiovascular system, making neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease a real danger to the feet.
And as someone with diabetes, your body is slower to heal and prone to infection, so small blisters and abrasions can quickly turn into serious complications if not treated promptly and properly.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association estimates that the average person walks about 115,000 miles in a lifetime. That is over four times around the equator, if you are counting.
With all the walking, your feet experience a lot of wear and tear. For most people, the pain of a blister or cut is a signal to get off your feet and let them heal. But if you have diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage in your feet, the pain signal is impaired or gone altogether, and you may not notice an inquiry until you actually see it.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are little pads of dead skin that build up after all those miles of fancy footwork. Painful and protuberant, these islands of dead skin are a signal from your feet that they have had enough. Excess pressure or friction causes them. Corns develop on the toes only, while calluses show up on the heels or on the bottom of the feet.
At the first sign, it is worth taking steps to stop them in their tracks. If the pressure is not eventually corrected, it can affect not only the skin but also the bones and joints underneath. And any foot pain can cause you to change your gait, which can, in turn, throw your posture out of whack and lead to a bad back.
Fortunately, for most people, preventing corns and calluses is just a matter of finding shoes that fit.
Treating Corns and Calluses on Diabetic Patients
In treating corns and calluses, it is best not to pop or break blisters, as it will increase your risk of infection. Keep a close eye on the wounds. If they start to get worse, exhibit signs of infection, such as pus, odor, redness, or warmth, or do not look as if they are healing within a day or so, call your doctor immediately for further instruction.
Keep your feet moisturized to avoid skin fissures or cracks caused by dryness. Try not to apply lotion between the toes, as it can breed fungal growth or infection. Instead, sprinkle baby or talcum powder to keep these areas dry.
If you develop corns and calluses, you are better off letting your podiatrist treat them. If you have peripheral neuropathy or PN, do not try to remove corns or calluses with cutting implements or chemical treatments on your own. A pumice stone may be used only with your doctor’s approval.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Most ulcers form on the bottom of the foot, although shoes that do not fit well can cause sores and subsequent ulcers on the top of the foot or the ankle. Usually, ulcers start as a callus, small sore, abrasion, or blister that would be “no big deal” in someone without diabetes.
However, high blood glucose levels, poor circulation, and nerve damage are a recipe for ulceration in people with diabetes.
There are two categories of foot ulcers—vascular and neuropathic, also known as pressure, ulcer. The former is caused by peripheral vascular disease; the latter is the result of the loss of sensation that accompanies PN.
Infection is the primary risk with foot ulcers; so proper wound care is essential. Ulcers should remain moist and covered in a breathable dressing at all times. Oxygen is essential to the healing process. An antibiotic ointment may be applied if infection is present.
Oral antibiotic medication should also be prescribed. If you have a pressure ulcer, debridement or the removal of callused, dead skin, may also be performed at the podiatrist’s office.
Daily Foot Check
It only takes a minute to check your feet for signs of abrasions, blisters, or other foot ailments, and it could save you serious medical problems down the road.
Make it a part of your daily routine, either as you get dressed for the day, at shower time, or as you get ready for bed. Before you know it, it will become a healthy habit.