7 Foot Problems Caused or Exacerbated by Diabetes

October 1, 2020 1:10 pm Published by

People who deal with the day-to-day needs of diabetes may suffer from foot problems as a result of their insulin imbalance.

Regardless of whether you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, it’s crucial you are aware of issues that could affect your feet and ankles as a direct result of your condition. 

7 Foot Problems Caused or Exacerbated by Diabetes - male doctor checking male patient

Here are seven foot problems caused or exacerbated by diabetes:

The Big Players

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause two major foot issues: damage to your nerves (diabetic neuropathy) or blood flow problems (Peripheral vascular disease). 

1. Diabetic Neuropathy 

Diabetic neuropathy is permanent damage to the nerves of your legs and feet caused by poor insulin regulation, often causing numbness or an inability to feel temperature changes or pain. 

Those who suffer from this nerve damage typically don’t realize if they scald their feet or lower extremities in hot water while bathing or can walk around for weeks with wounds or ailments in their legs and feet, not registering the pain. 

2. Peripheral Vascular Disease

Those with Peripheral Vascular Disease often lack blood flow to their lower extremities, which affects their feet and ankles. 

Reduced blood flow slows the healing process, so individuals with this condition often suffer from injury or ailments much longer than those without. Infections linger longer too, and if left untreated can lead to dangerous diabetic foot ulcers or gangrene.

Secondary Diabetic Foot Conditions

Those with one or both of the above primary diabetic foot conditions often experience an exacerbated susceptibility to (or complications from) the following foot problems:

3. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection characterized by a scaly rash with itching, stinging, or burning. Those with limited feeling in their feet due to diabetes complications may not feel the pain of this condition and may also have trouble fighting the infection, even with pills or medicated creams, due to limited blood flow.

The best thing diabetics can do is to avoid these complications is to reduce their risk of developing athlete’s foot at all by following these prevention tips. 

4. Fungal Nail Infections

Have you ever removed your nail polish after a pedicure only to discover a yellow or white murkiness under your toenail? You may have picked up a fungal infection. These infections can already be hard to treat on their own— and diabetics have an even harder time recovering from pesky fungi.

If you are diabetic, decrease your chances of developing a fungal infection by avoiding walking around barefoot and following these 10 tips for avoiding infections during your next pedicure

5. Ingrown Toenails

Those who lose feeling in their feet often do not realize that their toenails are becoming excessively long and rubbing in their shoes, or that they’re developing usually painful ingrown nails after cutting their toenails too short.

Here’s an important resource for properly cutting your toenails to avoid this diabetic foot condition. If you suspect you may have an ingrown toenail, read our article for signs of infection.

6. Foot Ulcers

Ulcers are a common condition experienced by those with untreated infections as a result of Peripheral vascular disease. In fact, approximately 15% of those with diabetes suffer from foot ulcers, according to Advancing Foot & Ankle Medicine and Surgery (APMA).

These open wounds can lead to serious infection and in some cases, death. Learn more about why diabetics are at higher risk of developing foot ulcers here.

7. Dry Skin

Those with poor circulation issues may experience dry skin issues, according to WebMD. Not only can dry skin be irritating and painful, but cracked skin allows bacteria and germs to enter into your body. Because those with diabetes often have trouble fighting infection, dry skin can be a real problem. 

The trouble is, diabetics need to keep their feet dry— but not too dry. Read more about ways to prevent moisture from forming on your feet while still preventing cracked for flakey skin here

Prevention is Key

These are only some of the most common foot conditions worsened or caused by diabetes complications. Bunions, hammertoes, corns and calluses, plantar warts, and more can also be problems for diabetics— and it’s crucial to routinely check and examine your feet and ankles for issues.

Here are five tips for preventing diabetic foot problems to stay on guard.If you suspect diabetes may be affecting your feet or ankles, explore our Diabetic Foot Care Services and give us a call to set up an appointment at 239.936.5400, today.

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Welcome, Dr. Elaine Felix!


Dr. Felix has extensive training in treating all aspects of the foot and ankle including arthroscopy, sports injuries, trauma, reconstructive surgery, wound care, as well as forefoot and mid-foot surgery.
We are so excited to have her join our team!
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