The number of people with diabetes is increasing in both the United States and around the world. Diabetes currently affects nearly 26 million Americans. Because diabetes causes too much sugar (glucose) to stay in your bloodstream, it can damage many parts of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
What is a diabetic foot sore?
Diabetes and high blood sugar can lead to foot problems in two ways:
- Nerve damage (also called neuropathy) can lead to loss of sensation in your feet and legs. Because of nerve damage, you may not feel cuts or sores, making it easy for them to become infected.
- Poor circulation in your feet and legs is caused by narrowing of blood vessels (also called peripheral artery disease or PAD). Because your vessels aren’t bringing enough blood with oxygen and nutrients, your body will be slow to fight off an infection and heal.
A diabetic foot sore usually starts out on the bottom of the foot, and becomes deeper and sometimes even infected. The effects of diabetes can slow wound healing anywhere on the body, so small cuts and blisters can easily develop into deep sores.
About 1 out of every 4 people with diabetes develops a diabetic foot sore in their lifetime
Because many people with diabetes who develop diabetic foot sores have lost the ability to feel pain, pain is not a common symptom. Even if pain is not felt, look out for the following symptoms:
- Drainage on your socks
If you suspect a diabetic foot sore, contact your doctor immediately.
Are you at risk?
Anyone who had diabetes can develop a diabetic foot sore. However, people who have diabetes plus the following risk factors are more likely to develop a diabetic foot sore:
- Older males
- People of Native American, African American, or Hispanic descent
- People who use insulin
- People with diabetes-related kidney, eye, or heart disease
- People who are overweight
- People who use alcohol
- People who use tobacco
- People with diabetic nerve damage (neuropathy)
Preventing diabetic foot sores
Prevention is the key to keeping healthy feet and reducing the likelihood of diabetic foot ulcers.Learn about prevention
Practicing good wound care
Unhealed foot sores can lead to further complications. Timely treatment and good wound care are essential.Learn about treatment