People who have diabetes are at increased risk of foot infections than people who do not have diabetes, because having too much sugar in their blood for a long time can cause health complications, including foot problems that require diabetic foot treatment. This is why diabetics should schedule regular checkups with a podiatrist to make sure that their condition is not going to cost them the use of their legs.

How does diabetes affect the foot?

Diabetics are at risk of two problems that can affect their feet:

Diabetic neuropathy

When diabetes is uncontrolled or untreated, it can damage the nerves. People who have damaged nerves in their legs and feet might not feel pain, heat or cold in their legs and feet. The lack of feeling is known as sensory diabetic neuropathy.

If one does not feel a sore or cut in their foot because of neuropathy, the sore or cut could get worse and become infected. Podiatrists believe the damage to the nerves may also prevent the muscles in the foot from working properly because the nerves to the muscles are also damaged. This could lead to the foot not aligning properly and putting too much pressure on one part of the foot.

Peripheral vascular disease

In addition to damaging the nerves, diabetes also affects the way the blood flows. If the blood is not flowing properly, sores and cuts take longer to heal. Inadequate blood flow in the arms and legs is known as “peripheral vascular disease.” If a cut does not heal quickly because of poor blood flow, the patient will be at risk of for developing ulcers or gangrene.

What type of foot problems are associated with diabetes?

All the foot problems listed below can be treated by a podiatrist. However, people who have diabetes are at risk of infection and serious complications like amputation.

Athlete’s foot

This is a foot fungus that causes itching between the toes. Germs can enter the body through the cracks in the skin and cause an infection. Most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated with medication, but some cases may require surgery.

Fungal nail infection

This is a fungal infection that may discolor the nails and make them thick or brittle. The dark and moist environment of shoes can help the fungus grow. Fungal nail infections are difficult to treat, and in a lot of cases, the infection returns after a while. The infection can be treated with medication, but the nail may have to be surgically removed if the non-surgical treatment does not work.

Taking care of your feet when you are diabetic

Some common foot problems can be prevented or treated before they become big issues by taking proper care of the feet. Some diabetic foot treatment and care tips include:

  • Washing the feet daily with warm water and soap
  • Following the podiatrist’s advice combined with proper nutrition, exercise and medication
  • Checking the feet every day for sores, blisters, calluses, redness or any other problems, especially if the patient has poor blood flow
  • Avoiding tobacco products


Having diabetes can create health complications, especially in the feet, which is why you have to make sure the diabetes is kept in check with medication, exercise and a proper diet. If you have diabetes, do not risk the health of your feet; schedule an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible to receive diabetic foot treatment.

Request an appointment here: or call Ambulatory Foot & Ankle Clinic at (208) 803-0010 for an appointment in our Pocatello office.

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