Diabetic neuropathy, a condition caused by high blood sugar levels, can damage the protective coating around the nerves. The symptoms include numbness, tingling or a burning sensation in the feet. It can also affect your hands and legs.
High blood sugar levels also cause poor circulation, which means less oxygen is reaching the tissue in your feet and other nutrients that help fight off infections. A person with numbness may not notice if he or she injures a foot. A resulting infection may not heal well, and skin and other tissue may die. In a small minority of cases, the problem can progress into a complication that requires amputation of one or more toes, the foot or leg.
Each time you visit your doctor, remove your socks and shoes as a reminder to have your feet examined for sores and infections. Once or twice a year, expect a more thorough foot exam. Between doctor’s visits, follow a daily routine for inspecting your feet. Check the tops and bottoms as well as between your toes and look for sores or ulcers, breaks in the skin, blisters, redness that suggests an infection, ingrown toenails or any other changes that worry you. Report any problems to your doctor right away.
Prevent blisters by wearing well-fitted comfortable shoes.
Prevent burns by testing water temperature before you put your feet in.
Prevent infection by washing your feet daily with soap and water; be sure to thoroughly dry them with a soft towel.
Prevent injuries by not walking around barefoot.
Prevent skin from cracking by moisturizing with lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin or oil. Avoid putting lotion between your toes as this can cause moisture to build and skin to break down.
Prevent cuts and ingrown toenails by properly trimming your toenails: Start by soaking your feet in lukewarm water to soften your nails, and trim them straight across to avoid ingrown toenails.