Dr. Tea Nguyen at Pacific Point Podiatry is skilled in diabetic foot care and wound healing. She helps patients with the treatment and prevention of foot problems associated with diabetes.
Patients with diabetes should pay special attention to the condition of their feet since they are more susceptible to complications due to nerve damage in their feet. Diabetic foot care ensures the maintenance of good foot health for diabetics.
How Diabetes Affects The Feet
Diabetes is a systemic disease affecting all body systems. When diabetes affects the feet, it can limit blood flow, decrease your nerve sensation, and cause delayed healing to cuts and blisters, resulting in foot wounds.
Frequently, patients get foot wounds as a result of attempting to trim their toenails and calluses.
Diabetic Foot Problems
Diabetics can also develop other foot problems, including bunions, hammertoe, corns and calluses, ingrown toenails, and foot ulcers. If left untreated, these can lead to potential infections or foot wounds.
Why Infections Occur
When diabetics lose feeling in the feet, coupled with poor circulation, it can lead to serious infections.
High blood sugar can weaken the walls of blood capillaries that supply oxygen and nutrition to the nerves. This causes nerve damage and loss of sensation, especially in the feet - since they are farthest away from the blood-pumping heart. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.
Neuropathy can also cause the skin to become very dry and cracked, allowing infection-causing bacteria to enter the skin. Diabetic patients also have poor blood circulation, leading to the development of ulcers in the feet.
If left untreated, small wounds like ulcers and cracked skin can develop into very serious infections. These infections can be complicated to treat due to poor blood supply – the blood cannot adequately deliver antibiotics to the wound site. Thus, many diabetic wounds are difficult to heal.
Complications Linked to Diabetic Foot Wounds
Diabetic patients should get treatment for infections as soon as possible to avoid potential complications. Even minor wounds that may not be painful need medical attention, as any size wound can lead to very serious infections
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
People with diabetes are especially susceptible to foot wounds that have delayed healing. These wounds, known as ulcers, can be dangerous and lead to significant infections and possible amputations if allowed to persist too long.
Serious infections in the feet can lead to hospitalization. There are often several facets to treating a diabetic wound. Dr. Tea may need to clean out and remove any dead or infected tissue. Antibiotics are also administered to help clear up the infection. A vascular surgery evaluation may also be recommended.
Amputation is often necessary if the infection does not clear up after treatment with antibiotics or debridement (cleaning out dead or infected tissue). Regrettably, this is very common for diabetic patients, as poor blood circulation makes it difficult to heal infections in the feet.
Unfortunately, diabetic patients who have had a foot or leg amputation have a very high risk of having the opposite foot or leg amputated within 5 years. Furthermore, there is a very high 5-year mortality rate associated with amputations in diabetic patients.
To avoid such serious complications, it is important that people with diabetes take good care of their feet.
Minimally Invasive Surgery for Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Dr. Tea has successfully performed minimally invasive surgery to accelerate healing of diabetic foot ulcers, and for some patients, in as little as 2 weeks. She has healed most diabetic foot ulcers faster than with standard wound care alone by addressing the underlying biomechanics and giving attentive care.
Preventive Foot Care to Avoid Complications
Preventive care is extremely important for diabetic patients. At Pacific Point Podiatry, we recommend that patients follow these preventative measures to avoid serious complications.
Practice General Foot Care
Never walk barefoot. Since diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy) lessens your ability to feel pain, heat, and cold, always wear shoes or slippers to reduce your risk of injury and infection.
Inspect Feet Daily
Patients should inspect their feet daily to look for wounds, as well as redness, warmth, bruising, blisters, and nail problems. Using a mirror makes it easier to check the bottom of your feet.
Practice Daily Foot Care
Clean your feet daily with warm water and mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet since it can dry out your skin. After washing your feet, carefully pat them dry with a towel to remove all moisture.
Unscented lotions may be applied to lock in moisture and prevent dry skin. However, avoid rubbing creams and lotions between the toes since extra moisture can lead to an infection.
Toenails should be trimmed straight across. Avoid cutting corners to prevent ingrown toenails. If present, ingrown toenails should be treated right away to reduce the risk of infection.
Wear comfortable, fitting socks at night and during cold weather to keep your feet warm.
Implement Lifestyle Changes
If you smoke, quit. Smoking damages blood vessels, and when combined with diabetic nerve damage and poor circulation, it can significantly increase your chances of infection and amputation in the future.
Wear Appropriate Shoes and Orthotics
Wear shoes that are comfortable and well-fitted. Avoid shoes that are too tight or small, as well as shoes with pointed toes and high heels. Custom orthotics and even custom footwear can help manage foot deformities and provide relief from neuropathy and vascular problems.
Diabetic Foot Care at Pacific Point Podiatry
Dr. Tea is available to help with all of your diabetic foot care needs, including nail care, callus care, and yearly diabetic foot exams. Regulator foot care is extremely important for diabetic patients.
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