July 3, 2016

Epsom Salts, Safe for People with Diabetes? - Part 2

Continued from the prior blog.

Infection is the prime cause of foot problems and people with diabetes need to be aware of this. This is also why a daily foot inspection is necessary and if any cuts happen or infection is noticed, they should call their doctor. Infection signs and symptoms include pus, redness, increasing pain, and warm skin.

Diabetes causes changes to the skin of the foot. People with diabetes may notice that their feet are extremely dry, and the skin may start to peel and crack. The nerves that control the oil and moisture in the feet stop working, leading to overly dry skin.

People with diabetes may develop poor circulation, which makes it hard to fight infection and to heal properly. This problem is known as peripheral artery disease. The blood vessels in the feet and legs also narrow and harden.

When an infection becomes too severe or doesn't heal properly, it can cause gangrene. If gangrene develops, the skin and tissue around the sore dies. The area turns a blackish color and develops a bad smell. In addition to pain, nerve damage can also lead to food deformities. Hammertoes or collapsed arches may be a problem.

Doctors say soaking the feet is not recommended for people with diabetes. Soaking the feet can dry out the skin, which can further irritate foot issues. People with diabetes tend to have dry feet and the Epsom salt bath may only make the condition worse. Prolonged soaking can also open small cracks that may be present in the skin, allowing germs to enter.

Again, while an Epsom salt foot soak may sound good, no type of foot soak is recommended for people with diabetes.

There are things that people with diabetes can do to ensure the health of their feet. Daily foot care as well as controlling blood sugar levels is essential not only for the feet but overall health.
  1. Check the feet daily. The feet should be carefully examined for any potential sores, blisters, cuts, scrapes, bruises or anything else abnormal.
  2. Wash the feet. Lukewarm water and mild soap are recommended. Oversoaking is not recommended because it can dry out your skin.
  3. Dry the feet. Special attention should be given to the area in between the toes. Excess moisture between the toes is a breeding ground for fungus.
  4. Moisturize the feet all over. A moisturizing lotion can help keep the skin from drying out so quickly. Do not put moisturizer between the toes.
  5. Always make sure to wear properly fitting shoes and socks. Shoes that are too tight can make pressure points on the feet that can eventually break down and lead to additional problems.

An emery board can be used to file rough toenail edges, and a pumice stone can help get rid of calluses. People with diabetes should never burst blisters or pick at sores. It is important to keep toenails regularly trimmed. If an ingrown toenail develops, a podiatrist should be seen.

People with diabetes should always contact a doctor as soon as possible, if they have an injury to their foot or an area does not seem to be healing. Prompt attention can help ward off infections or other foot complications.

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