Calluses form on your feet in order to protect the sensitive skin on your feet from irritation. They're made mostly of hard keratin, and they form when you regularly place a lot of pressure on an area of the bottom of your foot. Calluses don't cause pain, so they're not an issue for most people. When you have diabetes, however, calluses can cause serious problems.
People who have diabetes often develop diabetic neuropathy in their feet, which causes numbness. Diabetes also causes poor blood circulation in your feet, which interferes with their ability to heal from injuries.
While calluses help protect sensitive skin, they increase the pressure on the bottom of your foot when you walk on them because of how hard they are. Walking on a callus can cause the skin beneath it to break down, leading to an ulcer. If you have diabetic neuropathy, you may not be able to feel this happening, and the ulcer forming on your foot may be completely hidden by the callus.
If you have diabetes, it's important to see a podiatrist regularly to have your calluses removed. Read on to learn three reasons why.
1. Seeing A Podiatrist Reduces Your Risk of Developing a Severe Infection
One of the worst possible outcomes of a foot ulcer is an infection. Bacteria on the ground can work its way through gaps in your callus into the ulcer, leading to it becoming infected. People who have diabetes often have trouble fighting off foot infections because of poor blood circulation in their feet. Once the ulcer is infected, the infection can spread to the nearby bones in your foot. When this happens, it often requires the amputation of your foot to prevent the infection from spreading into your bloodstream.
Seeing a podiatrist regularly to have your calluses removed stops them from covering up diabetic ulcers, allowing you to seek treatment when one develops before it becomes infected. Removing the calluses on your foot also reduces the pressure that's placed on the skin of your foot when you walk, which reduces the chance that an ulcer will form.
2. Removing Your Calluses at Home Can Be Dangerous When You Have Diabetes
While you can buy over-the-counter products for removing calluses at a pharmacy, using them can be dangerous when you have diabetic neuropathy and poor blood circulation in your feet. Liquid callus removers typically contain acid, which can dissolve healthy skin along with the callus. When you have poor blood circulation in your feet, the damaged skin can take a long time to heal, and you're vulnerable to infection before the wound has closed.
Similarly, using a pumice stone on your feet to remove a callus can be dangerous because of the risk that you'll scrape off the healthy skin and open up a wound, and the risk is even greater when you have diabetic neuropathy and can't feel your feet very well.
Visiting a podiatrist to have your calluses removed is a safe way to manage them when you have diabetes since they'll very carefully scrape away the calluses without harming your healthy skin.
3. A Podiatrist Can Recommend Orthotic Shoes or Insoles to Reduce Callus Formation
By looking at where the calluses on your feet are forming, a podiatrist can determine where you're placing pressure on the bottom of your foot when you walk. They can recommend orthotic shoes or inserts for you to wear that help shift your weight away from these spots. Reducing the pressure placed on these areas helps slow down callus formation, and it also helps protect the skin underneath the callus from being damaged by excess pressure.
If you have diabetes, make sure you visit a podiatrist regularly to have your feet examined and your calluses removed. Removing calluses doesn't take very long, and it reduces the risk that you'll develop a severe infection that can lead to the loss of your foot. Your feet are an at-risk part of your body when you have diabetes, and a podiatrist such as Dr. Christopher H. Peteros, DPM, LLC can help you protect them.