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Diabetes and foot wounds - a dangerous combination

If you are diabetic, even small foot wounds have the potential for becoming serious ulcers that can lead to amputation if not properly treated. In fact, the rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 percent higher than for people who do not have the disease. Fortunately, most of these amputations are preventable with good foot care and wound treatment.

If you have diabetes, even a small wound or blister can become a serious problem that can result in an amputation if not treated correctly. This is because diabetes reduces the blood flow to your legs which makes it more difficult for wounds to heal. Many people with diabetes also have reduced sensation in their hands and feet and this may cause you to not notice a wound or signs of infection immediately.

The best way to prevent complications is to take proper care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Wash both feet with soap and warm water and check them for injuries every day as part of your daily routine. Dry your feet thoroughly, and apply foot cream to prevent them from becoming dried and cracked. Also, avoid tight shoes that have pointed toes and high heels.

If you have diabetes you should ask your GP or health provider for a referral to a podiatrist if you have any of the following:

- A wound or blister that is slow to heal

- A feeling of tingling, burning or numbness in your feet

- An area of callus or hard skin that is darker in colour

- Cramping in the legs at night or when walking

- A history of amputation

You should also ask your health provider for information about footwear, how to keep your diabetes under control, and for other access to health screening that may be appropriate.

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