It may not surprise you to hear that diabetics have issues with their skin. Diabetes reduces blood flow to the extremities, which can diminish the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the feet. In our second entry to our series on diabetes and its effects on the feet we will be discussing skin and calluses.
Often diabetics will notice a change in the skin on their feet. Diabetic neuropathy can cause the feet to sweat less, which leads to the skin on the feet becoming very dry. This dry skin can crack which leaves the feet open to infection. The best way to combat dry skin on the feet is to regularly moisturize them, especially right after a shower or bath. Take special care not to moisturize between toes, as this can cause the soft skin between the toes to get too much moisture, causing the breakdown of skin. Also, while it may feel very relaxing, soaking diabetic feet is not recommended, hot water can cause drying of skin as well.
Calluses are thickened areas of skin tissue most frequently found on the bottom of the feet. They form due to the body’s natural response to an uneven distribution of weight, forming in areas where the body experiences more stress, as an effort to help protect these areas. Calluses can also be caused by excessive rubbing from shoes that fit too tightly. When calluses occur on the top of the foot they are generally referred to as corns. While a certain degree of callusing is normal, excessive callusing can cause ulcers on the feet of diabetics. Corns and calluses should never be cut out or ground down at home, as this can easily lead to infection. Your podiatrist can do this with more precision as well as using instruments that have been medically sterilized.