Diabetics are susceptible to foot problems for several reasons. First, diabetes may encourage vascular disease, reducing blood flow to extremities like the lower legs and feet. Without adequate blood supply, tissue can die. Another complication of diabetes is nerve damage. You can lose sensation in your feet, making it possible for cuts, ingrown toenails, or injuries to go unnoticed, and become infected. In a vicious cycle, decreased circulation also makes it harder for your body to heal itself. Finally, diabetics often have trouble fighting infection, because their white blood cells don't function properly. If not treated right away, even minor problems can become severe, and in extreme cases, lead to amputation of a foot or leg. However, with daily self-care, and regular visits to a podiatrist, most complications can be prevented. Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day. Wear comfortable shoes with plenty of toe-room. Never walk on bare feet. Also, check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, bunions, calluses, and other abnormalities. Be alert to warning signs like red, swollen feet or ankles; pain, tingling, or loss of sensation in the feet and legs; thin, shiny skin that's always cold; thickened toenails; or unexplained high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar can rise in the presence of serious infection. If you do find a problem, don't try to treat it yourself with clippers or chemical solutions. See a foot care specialist immediately.
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