Foot care might not be a very interesting topic to discuss; but at the same time, it is not something that is worth ignoring too. In spite of being the farthest organs from the heart, your feet’s health is crucial for your overall well-being. Pain, soreness or even a mild swelling in your feet, can tell a lot about your health. So, even if there is a little itching or swelling, ignoring it or regarding it a normal discomfort is the last you should be doing; especially if you are diagnosed other medical conditions already.
Of all the health complications that are associated with the feet, diabetes is the major one. In diabetic and prediabetic patients, the first body parts to be seriously affected are the feet. Diabetes, in most of the cases, is associated with foot ulcers, swelling in the feet, gangrene and amputations and most of the times, the biggest reason for these complications is the sheer ignorance of the patients. Fortunately, one can avoid these diabetes-related foot complications by taking proper care of their feet. Apart from keeping the feet clean, keeping your blood glucose levels in check will also help you keep these foot problems at bay.
Diabetic neuropathy – the feet sensitivity killer
Diabetic neuropathy is a health condition triggered due to increased blood glucose levels, wherein the functioning of the nerves in the body is hampered. It is said to be a progressive disorder and its symptoms worsen as the time passes. Uncontrolled sugar levels can lead to several other health complications like hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity. Any nerve in the body could be damaged in diabetic neuropathy; but often, it is the nerves of the ganglia, nerves that are outside the skull and the spinal cord, and the nerves that regulate the functioning of the fundamental organs like heart, bladder, intestines, and stomach that are badly affected.
There are four types of neuropathy namely :
- Autonomic neuropathy, wherein the nerves that regulate the involuntary functions of the body are affected
- Proximal neuropathy affects the legs largely
- Focal neuropathy is a type of neuropathy, wherein any nerve could be damaged
- Lastly, peripheral neuropathy, which is the common type of diabetic neuropathy, affects the feet and hands.
In few patients, diabetic neuropathy does not give rise to pronounced symptoms, while in some, the day-to-day activities become tedious and might lead to other critical health complications like renal failure, cardiac disorders, gangrene, etc.
The first thing that the diabetic neuropathy does to your feet is that it reduces the sensitivity in the feet up to a point where, the patient hardly feels anything in the feet, may it be a prick, a blister or even a cut. When these blisters or wounds are left untreated, it leads to foot ulcers, severe cuts, sores and their infections.
Our body is blessed with various self-healing mechanisms like inflammation regulation and tissue regeneration; however, all these are partially shut down in diabetics due to increased blood glucose levels. Thus, healing takes longer time, provided the infected area is kept clean and open. A little contamination or even ignorance will prevent the wounds from healing and worsen the infections.
Moving towards a better understanding, wounds need nutrients to heal and these nutrients are made available through the blood. In diabetes, blood flow towards the feet is remarkably reduced, which simply means that the cells won’t get the necessary nutrients to heal. It is because of the reduced blood flow, some ulcers and infections never heal, eventually leading to gangrene. Untreatable gangrenes are even worse and can lead to amputations of a toe, foot or even a portion of the leg. Amputations are necessary in order to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
Apart from ulcers, infections, and gangrene, diabetic neuropathy might also lead to Charcot’s foot, which is a condition wherein the shape of the feet changes due to shifting of the bones in the feet and toes. In the initial stages of this condition, one might witness redness, warmth, and swelling.
Diabetic neuropathy can be prevented with proper regulation of blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Choosing the right footwear is also important in order to prevent the nerve damage as nerves in diabetics are extremely sensitive to compression. Avoid walking barefoot as it can increase the chances of foot infections.
Foot ulcers – what makes them so dangerous?
Any kind of foot damage in diabetics is extremely dangerous; of all the problems, foot ulcers are those that should never be ignored. These have to be addressed in the initial stages itself, as any delay could lead to amputations. Foot ulcers in diabetics might look extremely normal and easily curable in the initial stages; but, let’s not forget that the blood supply towards their feet is pretty low. In the beginning, it is a simple itch, then it is a blister and the next day it is a hole. Complications are triggered rapidly in the diabetics, unlike the healing mechanisms. The cycle of a diabetic ulcer, if not treated immediately involves severe infection, hospitalization, amputations and eventually death.
Diabetic foot creams with L-arginine as the key ingredient could help diabetic foot ulcers. The site of infection needs oxygen and other nutrients and L-arginine can help with that. L-arginine supports the healing process by improving the vascular function of the feet in diabetics.
According to Dr. Devall, a podiatrist at the Temple Santa Fe Center, around 15% of the diabetic foot ulcers lead to amputations and foot ulcers are found to be the main reason for more than 85% of all the diabetes-related amputations. Some of the best ways to avoid foot ulcers are to take care of the corns, calluses and ingrown toenails before they get any worse, wearing the right shoes and most importantly keeping the feet moisturized and clean.
Diabetes need not be as scary as it seems; with proper attention and care, diabetes can be kept under control and its consequences can be kept at the bay. Keeping the blood glucose levels in check will prevent all the foot problems in the diabetics, as all these problems arise from diabetic neuropathy and reduced blood circulation.
Keeping your feet healthy – not a big challenge
Keeping your feet clean, moisturized and warm is the best way to prevent all major diabetes-related foot problems. Here are some simple things you can do in order to keep your feet healthy.
- Checking the feet regularly
Since diabetes reduces the sensitivity in the feet, even if you have foot problems, you might not know. Making it a habit to check your feet every day may help you with these problems. If you see any cuts, sores, swelling, ingrown toenails, corns, callus or even minor infections, make sure those are addressed immediately. Make sure you clean your feet thrice a day and dry the moisture content with a clean towel. Do not forget that your feet are as important as your other parts of the body.
- Moisture content is helpful in preventing the cracks
Dry skin makes the diabetic wounds take a turn for the worse. Keeping your feet moisturized is very much helpful in preventing the heel fissures and cracks, which are common in diabetics and prediabetics. One must know that keeping the feet moisturized and keeping them wet are two different things and the latter isn’t good for the feet health. There are few products specially designed for diabetic foot care, which effectively hydrate the feet and keep them healthy. Using them regularly will help the dryness problem.
- Keep an eye on the blood flow towards your feet
Reduced blood flow is not good for your feet, especially if those already have some wounds on them. Steady blood flow is crucial in order to prevent cold feet, which if ignored, leads to loss of sensitivity in the feet that is again followed by other problems. Consuming food products that improve the blood circulation and applying foot care products that boost the blood circulation address these problems. L-arginine remarkably improves the blood circulation by converting itself to nitric oxide, a powerful vasodilator.
Engaging in physical activities like yoga, cycling, walking, stretching and swimming could also help in improving the blood circulation. Avoid using tight socks and elastic stockings as these restrict the blood circulation.
Skin care products for foot care in diabetics
Foot care products can help you take care of your feet effectively. These lock the moisture content, improve the blood circulation and most importantly, restore the sensitivity in the feet. Applying creams that are enriched with the soothing effect of aloe vera, glycerin and L-arginine could be helpful in addressing various diabetic foot problems. When applied as a thin layer, these products act as a barrier against the moisture loss and also protect the skin against cracks, infections, and other wounds. However, do not let these get accumulated between your toes, as it might lead to fungal infections due to excess moisture content.
While choosing the foot creams, make sure to check if those have skin-hydrating ingredients in it. Foot creams are not meant to cure the existing infections, but these help in preventing the excessive dryness and cuts and sores that are caused due to dryness. A few foot creams also improve the blood circulation in the feet and keep them warm, which is important to reduce the risk of infection.
DIAGUD diabetic foot cream – the best answer for all diabetes-related foot problems
DIAGUD is a scientifically formulated diabetic foot cream specially designed to address major diabetes-related foot problems like xerosis, fissures, sores, irritation, corns, calluses and swelling without causing any irritation. Primarily, DIAGUD improves the blood circulation in the feet and prevents ulcers and infections. Along with the strong moisturizing properties, DIAGUD also acts as a powerful barrier against the harmful pollutants, insects, and bacteria. The key ingredients of this product are L-arginine, aloe vera, glycerin, salicylic acid, dimethicone, propylene glycol and liquid paraffin.
DIAGUD improves the structural integrity of the skin and gives the skin a smooth and even-textured appearance. Using DIAGUD cream every day can prevent all major diabetes-related foot problems like neuropathy, cold feet, skin unevenness due to keratin plugs and painful ulcers. This intensive treatment immediately soothes the skin against painful itching and penetrates deeply into the skin to improve its structural strength. It is found to be suitable for all skin types.
Improved blood circulation with L-arginine
Higher blood glucose levels lead to an impaired endothelial nitric oxide (NO) or endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS) system. This leads to reduced blood circulation, as NO is the one that relaxes the vascular smooth muscles and increases the blood flow throughout the body. Nitric oxide is one of the key stimulators of cell proliferation, maturation and differentiation. Both L-arginine and nitric oxide are important for collagen synthesis in wound healing. These biomolecules are also required for proper cross-linking in the collagen structure.
Diabetics and prediabetics are found to have a relatively lower concentration of L-arginine and a higher concentration of eNOS inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADME) in their plasma than the normal individuals. Reasons for the accumulation of eNOS inhibitor probably are kidney dysfunction that is associated with hyperglycemia and increased ketoacidosis. L-arginine serves as the precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide in the presence of NOS. Apart from this, it also facilitates the dimerization of two identical NOS subunits in order to form a homodimer. This is essential as the NOS enzyme is active in its dimer form only.
Studies have shown that administration of L-arginine transdermally could improve the blood circulation in the feet of patients with initial and advanced stages of diabetes. Increased blood circulation in the feet is indicated by the faster wound healing and warmth in the feet.
According to the experts, using L-arginine foot creams regularly can increase the blood flow by 35% and the big toe temperature by approximately 8 degrees. Apart from this, L-arginine also softens the corns and calluses in the feet and gives the skin a smoother appearance.
Aloe vera – an excellent anti-inflammatory and moisturizing agent
When it comes to diabetes, both oral and topical administration of aloe vera has multiple health benefits. Regular topical application of aloe vera has a positive impact on wound healing through improved collagen synthesis. Aloe vera boosts the capillary blood circulation in the dermis and thereby provides the necessary nutrients for the tissue regeneration. It also regulates the inflammation and hydrates the skin, which is important in the prevention of sudden cracks in the skin, sores, and fissures. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it can also alleviate the pain and itching that are associated with the ulcers.
At times, the condition of the ulcers worsens due to the free radical activity. Aloe vera again comes to the rescue with its antioxidant properties. As a strong antioxidant, it protects the skin cells against oxidative stress and supports faster wound healing. Regular topical application of aloe vera is helpful in the prevention of major diabetic foot problems.
Salicylic acid – a keratolytic agent with skin-softening properties
Salicylic acid possesses strong keratolytic properties, with which, it loosens and softens the skin that is dry, thick and scaly. Salicylic acid is helpful in getting rid of the dead cells without much scrubbing. It also improves the moisture holding capacity of the skin and prevents cracks and fissures that are caused due to excessive dryness.
Salicylic acid works by breaking the bond between the skin cells at the site of the corns and calluses. It gradually dissolves the corns by increasing the moisture content at the site. It is also a powerful exfoliator that is extremely gentle on the skin; it removes the dead and dying tissue and improves the skin’s health. As an anti-irritant, it reduces skin irritations such as itching, redness and soothes the stressed skin.
Activated dimethicone and liquid paraffin – natural emollients
Diabetics experience chronic skin dryness that can frequently cause skin cracks and sores; these problems are pretty recurrent and require more than regular moisturizing. Dry skin is caused due to the loss of moisture content in the outer layer of the skin. Emollients like dimethicone and liquid paraffin prevent the moisture loss by forming a thin oily layer on top of the skin. Dimethicone and liquid paraffin restore the lost barrier function of the skin by effectively moisturizing the skin and prevent rough, dry, scaly and itchy skin. Activated dimethicone also improves the texture of the skin and gives it a smooth appearance. Liquid paraffin improves the flexibility of the skin structure and also improves its appearance. Emollients penetrate deep into the skin, heal the cracks and fissures, and prevent the callus build-up.
Glycerin and Propylene glycol – intense moisturizers
Humectants like glycerin and propylene glycol work by attracting the moisture content to the stratum corneum or the outer layer of the skin. Glycerin is one of the highly effective moisturizers that reduces the flaking of the skin and restores the suppleness of the skin in the feet. It also removes the keratin plugs in the feet and corrects the unevenly structured skin. It hydrates the skin without clogging the skin pores. Glycerin is helpful in the treatment of micro traumas and in disinfecting the wounds.
Propylene glycol also moisturizes the skin and it is helpful in the quicker absorption of other ingredients of DIAGUD.
Are we good in and out?
Treatment of diabetic complications is not just dependent on the disinfection or the topical treatment. Consuming the right food that supports the healing process is also equally important. Foods that increase the blood glucose levels or cholesterol levels do no good to the treatment, while foods that contain complex carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fibers ensure steady glucose release and supports faster wound healing.
A few diabetic patients avoid consuming carbohydrates fearing sugar spikes; but, this can lead to fatigue as carbohydrates are the major sources of energy in our body. Skipping meals is also a bad idea, as this hampers the glycemic balance in the body, which might again lead to other medical complications. According to the research experiments, eating consistently throughout the day could help in regulating the glycemic balance in the blood. Choosing the right time to eat is as important as choosing the right food. Due to the hectic schedule, many among us do not have a consistent routine for eating and this also adds to the negative impacts of diabetics.
In short, anything that gets digested quickly and makes you feel hungry in short time isn’t good for your body. At the same time, eating foods that are digested slowly and regulate your appetite is helpful in promoting wound healing at a faster rate. In diabetes treatment, food plays a major role and next comes the oral and topical medicines. Right food will positively impact the healing process and prevents health problems that are triggered by the increased blood glucose levels.
Foot problems need not be a compulsory thing if you are a diabetic. There are many who have been living with diabetes without a single problem and in that kind of a life, a strict and balanced diet and a fitness regime plays a vital role. Even in the case of foot problems one can live comfortably without much problems. However, there are a few times when prevention is better than the cure and diabetes is one such times. Consuming health foods, not taking your feet for granted and using DIAGUD are few preventive measures that will help you keep your feet hale and healthy. The key to a happy and healthy life even in diabetics lies in controlling the three B’s – blood glucose levels, blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. As mentioned earlier, regulating these is helpful in the prevention of foot problems. After all, your body’s health lies in your feet.