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Diabetes Complications: Feet

Watch for ​foot ​complications.

People with diabetes should pay extra attention to their feet because of possible nerve damage or poor blood flow to the lower extremities. Once the nerves have been damaged, someone might lose feeling in their feet and not notice when they have injured their foot and this could lead to an infection. It can take longer for an injury to heal when someone has diabetes and this too contributes to the possibility for infection.

Experts recommend reducing or delaying complications such as a loss of feeling in the feet by managing diabetes with a healthy diet, regular exercise, controlling weight and blood pressure, and not smoking.

Even for those people who are making good choices to manage this disease, it is recommended that they adopt some daily habits for healthy feet too:

  • If unable to do a daily self-exam of the feet, ask a loved one to check them. Look for any signs of injury such as cuts, blisters, swelling, ingrown toenails or extreme dryness on the tops and bottoms of the feet.

  • Wash feet with warm water every day, but do not soak them. Additional moisture can possibly lead to infection.

  • Ask a family member or a professional to safely trim toenails on a regular basis.

  • Wear different shoes as frequently as possible and choose comfortable socks and shoes.

  • Much like the warning to not soak the feet, avoid putting lotion between the toes so that there is no excess moisture that could lead to an infection.

The combination of reduced blood flow to the feet and reduced sensation in the feet leads to increased risk for ulcers and infections that can become severe. Complications from diabetes can lead to amputation of the foot or leg.


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