Anyone who has diabetes can develop a diabetic foot infection. In some cases, diabetes can lead to reduced blood flow to a person's feet and a loss of sensation. The combination of these two factors can lead to the development of ulcers.
What is diabetic foot infection?
If the tissues in the person's foot remain oxygen deprived because of the reduced blood flow, these cells will eventually begin to die. This is called gangrene and it can be a life-threatening condition. Other complications like an infection can also occur. The tissues or the bones in the foot can become infected, and the infection can spread to the bloodstream. From there, it can attack other areas of the body.
People with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing a variety of other foot-related issues due to their lack of proper blood circulation.
These issues can include:
- Corns and calluses — these can be caused by abnormal gait or alignment of the feet
- Fungal infections, which typically affect the person's nails
- Athlete's foot
- Bent toes caused by weakened muscles
- Ingrown toenails
- Cracking of the bottom of the feet
- Foot pain
- Weak calf muscles
- Legs feeling cold
Diabetic foot infection treatments
The type of treatment the doctor decides to go with often depends on the type of foot issue and its severity. Issues like corns can be addressed with corrective shoes, while a foot infection is treated with antibiotics.
Depending on the severity of the infection, surgical options might also be explored. A foot infection can become gangrenous and that can lead to life-threatening conditions if it spreads to vital areas of the body. Surgical treatment can be used to removed gangrenous tissues and as a last resort for an infection that is quickly spreading to other areas. In rare cases, amputation might be necessary.
How to prevent diabetic foot infection
When a person takes good care of their feet, the odds of them becoming infected is significantly reduced. Most problems can be prevented by controlling blood sugar levels as recommended by a doctor. Eating a balanced diet and exercising often also goes a long way when it comes to preventing a diabetic foot infection.
Other things that can be done to protect feet include: Wearing comfortable, closed shoes. Customized shoes may be worn if necessary. Doing so can relieve the symptoms of foot issues like bunions. When putting on their shoes, patients should make sure there are no objects that can cut their feet beforehand. It is best to avoid walking around barefoot, especially on hot surfaces.
Proper foot care goes a long way. Wash the feet with warm water and dry them thoroughly, making sure to inspect them daily for any sores and cuts. When moisturizing dry areas, remember not to get lotion between the toes as that area should be kept as dry as possible. Trim toenails weekly, cutting straight across instead of rounding off the edges as this can cause ingrown toenails. Diabetics should have their feet inspected by a podiatrist regularly.
It is also very important to stop using tobacco products, as smoking makes the poor circulation associated with diabetes even worse.
Dealing with a foot infection?
Our podiatrist can examine your feet and provide treatment for an infection or any other issue with your feet. Call our office for a consultation today.
Request an appointment here: https://thayne.pocatellopodiatry.com or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (307) 243-4080 for an appointment in our Thayne office.
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