Diabetes and Your Feet
There are a number of different types of diabetes and a number of different reasons why someone may get diabetes. There are two main types:
Good Blood Glucose Control
As far as diabetic foot disease is concerned it does not matter which type you have. If your blood glucose (sugar) is high the effects on your feet are the same.
The Diabetes team will regularly measure the amount of glucose in your blood using a test called HbA1c. This will give a guide to what your average blood glucose levels are over a 3 month period. Normal HbA1c is 48mmol/mol (6.5%).
The results of your HbA1c lets the Diabetes team discuss changes to your care and medication.
Your GP, Pharmacist or Practice nurse can support you to make changes to improve your blood glucose levels. You may also be referred to a Doctor who specialises in diabetes, a dietician for diet advice or to exercise classes. Click here for advice and resources from the Dietitians at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Foot Complications and Diabetes
- Poor blood glucose control can damage the blood vessels, circulation and nerves in your feet and legs (and other parts of your body).
- This damage can lead to ulceration or wounds on your feet which can lead to infection, hospitalisation and amputation.
- High blood glucose (HbA1c) levels can also increase risk of infection which can slow down wound healing.
Common Foot Complications for People with Ongoing High Blood Glucose
The Importance of Regular Foot Care
YOU are the best person to check your feet daily, looking out for any changes in the skin, cuts or grazes. If you can’t reach or see your feet please ask someone to help you, like your family or carers.
- Check your feet every day for changes in colour, breaks in the skin, corns and calluses.
- Wash your feet daily and ensure you dry well between your toes.
- Apply a foot cream to your feet daily, avoid applying between your toes. You can buy foot cream in your local pharmacy or supermarket – ideally it should contain UREA in the ingredients.
- Instead of cutting your nails, file them weekly. Filing is a great way to manage your nails without worry about doing damage to the skin around your nail. Use an emery board or metal diamond deb file available in pharmacies.
- Wear shoes that fit well, broad fitting, deep and rounded toe area and have a fastening.
All patients living with diabetes should have their feet checked annually.
This is usually done by your Practice nurse or Podiatrist. The annual check will include:
- Checking your foot shape
- Checking the condition of your skin and nails
- Checking your circulation and sensation
Know your risk classification
After your annual diabetes foot check you will be given a risk classification. This is your level of risk of foot problems occurring. If you have a risk classification of ‘Active’, it means you have an ulcer on your foot and you will be referred urgently to Podiatry.
Click below to find out about our Podiatry Wound Clinic
IMPORTANT – If you have a break in the skin or discharge (oozing) onto your socks or stockings or if you have a red, hot, swollen foot please contact Podiatry for an URGENT referral and/or an appointment, or your GP, Practice Nurse, Pharmacist or Private Podiatrist (HCPC registered).
Lots of videos about living with Diabetes, including how to look after your feet.
The STANCE Diabetes Foot Health Education Sessions and booklet has been developed for Cardiff and Vale patients to give you the practical information you need to keep your feet healthy such as how to file your nails, how to identify foot problems with advice on how to manage them.
Also in this section
Podiatry Patient Management Centre,
Cardiff Royal Infirmary,
For all enquiries call 02920 335135 or email Podcav@wales.nhs.uk