The Consequences of Diabetes on Your Skin and Feet
There are two consequences of diabetes that can have an adverse effect on your extremities, mainly your feet. The first of these is damage to your nerves. The main problem with nerve damage is that nervous tissue does not regenerate. That means that severe nerve damage, if it involves dead or severed nerves, cannot be reversed. If the nerves in your feet or hands get damaged, you will lose sensitivity. You may have a hard time noticing if your feet are hurt or if they are wounded in any way. A slight injury to your feet or hands could get worse and worse without you even feeling the problem. The second consequence from diabetes that affects your extremities is damaged blood vessels, or peripheral vascular disorders. If there is not enough blood reaching every part of your extremities, you may find that injuries take much longer to heal.
These two problems can interact to result in serious damage to your feet. For example, if you make it a habit of wearing ill-fitting shoes, you may develop a blister. Because of the nerve damage from diabetes, you will not feel that blister. This blister may then become infected, and the higher levels of glucose in your blood also help nourish the germs in the wound that worsen infection. The poor blood flow to your foot will make the infection take longer to heal which may result in the tissue dying and becoming gangrenous. Amputation may be necessary, all of which could have been prevented by wearing the right shoes.
There are some things that a diabetic can do to prevent damage to their feet. First of all is to check your feet daily for sores and injuries. It is necessary to wash your feet daily and to keep them dry. Prevent dry skin by using lotion and take care of calluses or corns before infection develops. Never walk barefoot and, remembering the example above, make sure to wear shoes that are comfortable and that fit well.
Your skin can also be affected by diabetes. By the same mechanisms of poor blood flow and nerve damage, your skin’s regulatory systems (like the sweat glands and oil producing cells) may not work properly or react when necessary. There are some things you can do to prevent serious skin conditions from developing. Always use a soap that is mild, make sure to wash it completely off and to dry completely. That means drying all the little nooks and crannies, like your groin, armpits and between your toes.
If you suffer from dry skin, make sure to use creams or lotions to keep it hydrated. Apply these after you bathe or wash to lock the moisture inside. Before using any creams or lotions as a diabetic, it is a good idea to check with your doctor and see what he recommends. The best way to keep hydrated and to keep your skins as healthy as possible is to drink plenty of water. Also wear fabrics that breathe and allow air and moisture to naturally circulate; cotton is always a good choice. To make sure that skin problems do not lead to infection, check yourself daily for any sores or cuts, and do not let the problems go too far.
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