Diabetic Foot Care in Phoenix
Diabetic foot care and foot care of other high-risk populations (those with neuropathy or poor circulation to their feet) is crucial to the prevention of wounds, ulcers, infection, or amputation.
What is done at a Diabetic Foot Care (DFC) Visit?
Once you sign into our office. Dr. Tarr will take you back to the exam room, and go over your medical history. She will then do an exam, checking for things like blood flow to your feet, nerve sensation, and any skin changes associated with a possible wound or ulcer. At this point, your toenails and possible calluses can be trimmed in a safe and sterile manner. Any skin changes can be addressed and treated at this time as well. To learn more about diabetic feet issues, click here.
Why Can't A Diabetic Cut Their Toenails?
Diabetes (both Type 1 and 2) is a disease that affects every part of the body in many different ways. Your feet are no exception. As a foot doctor, many of my parents are diabetics and come to me for their routine diabetic foot care, or for more serious issues like healing an ulcer. One of the most common questions I get from my diabetic patients is, "Why Can't A Diabetic Cut Their Toenails?"
Diabetes can cause nerve damage to the feet, poor circulation to the feet. and changes to the shape of your toenails. Any accidental nick or cut in a diabetic foot while trimming toenails can become an ulcer, increasing your chances of infection, and worst case scenario amputation.
For those people that have diabetes plus poor blood flow, and or neuropathy, they should be seeing a podiatrist or foot doctor every 2 months for regular checkups, and routine foot care. It is for these reasons that I don't recommend any of my diabetic patients to get pedicures in nail salons.
3 Reasons Why Diabetics Can't Cut Their Toenails
1. Diabetes increases the risk of losing feeling in the feet
Peripheral neuropathy or diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage due to the high blood sugars from diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy in diabetics starts in the feet, and can sometimes get so bad that it can attack the nerves in the hands as well. Once these nerves are damaged, it becomes very hard to feel your feet and to feel any injury that is done to your feet, including a cut from trimming your toenails yourself. If you're not checking your feet daily, which I recommend all of my diabetic patients do, this cut doesn't receive the care that it needs to heal, can turn into a certain type of sore called an ulcer, take weeks or months to heal, possibly become infected, which then would require antibiotics. In severe cases, diabetic foot infection does require hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and surgery to clean out the wound, or amputation. Peripheral neuropathy is reason #1 why diabetics shouldn't cut their toenails.
2. Diabetes can cause poor circulation to the feet
The high blood sugars seen in diabetes also attack the arteries to your feet and legs as well. This is known as Peripheral Arterial Disease or PAD, and causes not enough blood flow to reach your legs and feet. Blood vessels in the feet of someone with PAD can become clogged with plaque or harden. Not enough blood flow to your feet will make it much harder for your body to be able to heal any injury to your feet, including a nick or cut from having your nails trimmed improperly. Poor circulation from PAD can lead to chronic wounds and ulcers, infection, and worst-case scenario amputation.
3. Diabetes can cause changes to the shape of your nails, making them much harder to cut
Diabetes affects your feet in many ways, and one way it does this is by changing your toenails. Diabetic toenails can become very thick, brittle, and hard, and start to curve inward or ingrow. Certain diabetic nails are impossible to cut safely or cut at all with store-bought nail trimmers. If you can see what you are cutting, or aren't able to tell the difference between what is skin, and what is nail, an accidental cut is likely to happen. Add this on top of possible circulation issues from PAD and peripheral neuropathy, it is a recipe for disaster for chronic wounds, infection, and worst case scenario amputation. Changes to the shape of your toenails are the last reason why diabetics can't cut their toenails.
Are You a Diabetic With a Foot Callus?
A callus on a foot of someone with diabetes is cause for concern because this is a sign that this part of your foot is getting more pressure than it should. Pressure points that aren't addressed in the foot of someone with dabetes can lead to an ulcer. If you are diabetic with a foot ulcer, it is important that you see a foot doctor immediately in order to lower your risk of a wound happening.