Advice on Diabetic Foot and Toenail Care
Foot skin and toenail problems in patients with diabetes can lead to amputation. Early detection and treatment are always the best prevention techniques. In this review article, doctors from the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center discuss myths and advice related to diabetic foot care.
The first and best advice is to check the skin and toenails of the feet every day. Many people with diabetes also have a loss of normal sensation in the feet. They don't feel small sores, breaks, or changes in the skin. Wearing white socks can also help show any oozing or bleeding from sores or wounds.
Any change should be reported to your doctor or health care provider.
This is important because people with chronic diabetes are more likely to have poor circulation. This is especially true in the feet because they are the farthest away from the heart. Loss of blood supply to a wound can lead to infection.
Poor circulation combined with loss of sensation is a recipe for poor or delayed wound healing. This is all the more reason why early treatment is advised. Even before early intervention, preventing toenail disease and skin wounds are the primary goals.
Amputation is not a sign that the patient or the treatment has failed. Sometimes long-standing problems just can't be treated effectively any other way. If the patient isn't going to heal and will continue to lose function, amputation may be the best approach.
Patients may not have the resources or help they need to avoid serious problems. Mobility problems from aging and/or arthritis and reduced incomes contribute to this problem. Patient education by physicians and other health care providers can go a long way in helping patients with diabetes who have limited resources.
Michael B. Strauss, MD, and Stuart S. Miller, MD. Diabetic Foot Skin and Toenail Care: Debunking the Myths. In The Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. August 2007. Vol. 24. No. 8. Pp. 348-351.