Those with type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing serious foot conditions as a result of poorly controlled blood sugar levels. Raised blood sugar can cause nerve damage, which is known as neuropathy, or a condition called peripheral vascular disease, which impairs blood circulation. These two issues can put diabetics at an increased risk of foot amputation due to the development of a bacterial infection, if left untreated. Here's an overview of the main foot health problems that affect those with type 2 diabetes.
Calluses can develop easily in those with diabetes due to the skin on the feet being damaged as a result of poor circulation. Additionally, nerve damage to the foot can cause loss of sensation, so you may not be aware of poorly fitting shoes rubbing against the skin and causing thickened patches to develop over time. Although calluses don't sound particularly serious, they can be painful when walking and cause sufferers to alter their gait to reduce discomfort, which can lead to lower back pain as a result of altered posture.
Nerve damage to the feet can prevent you from feeling cuts, blisters or grazes, and if you don't realise you have one of these minor injuries, it will be left open and untreated. This puts those with type 2 diabetes at risk of developing foot ulcers if they have poor circulation, as abrasions take longer to heal due to insufficient nutrients and oxygen reaching the site of the abrasion via the blood. The longer it takes a minor injury to heal, the more likely it is to ulcerate and become infected. Diabetic foot ulcers can take months to heal, and infected ulcers may need to be surgically drained.
Cellulitis is a skin infection typically caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. This is a skin infection that is difficult to treat and that can occur due to the presence of a foot ulcer or because a diabetic patient's immune system is compromised and their body cannot fight off these particularly aggressive strains of bacteria. Cellulitis can spread deep into the tissues of your foot and to other parts of your body, such as your leg muscles or bones. It can be difficult to treat cellulitis in diabetics, and the bacteria can lead to tissue death and the development of gangrene.
Those with type 2 diabetes should have their feet examined by a podiatrist regularly to spot early signs of foot problems, as prompt treatment can prevent complications from developing. If you have any minor skin abrasions or foot pain, schedule an appointment with your diabetic podiatrist right away.