One common complication of diabetes is foot problems. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to nerve damage and poor blood flow which can result in serious foot problems.
Nerve damage can cause tingling, painful burning, or stinging of the feet. It is important that people with diabetes take good care of their feet and are gentle with them.
The tools and products that people use on their feet can significantly affect the overall health of their feet. This is especially true if they have nerve damage or the blood flow to their feet is greatly reduced.
Many people commonly soak their feet in Epsom salt to soothe aches. For people with diabetes, however, soaking feet in Epsom salt is not ideal.
What is Epsom salt?
The scientific name for Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It is a mineral compound that has many different uses.
Epsom salt in a dish.
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Some people recommend it as a remedy for various health problems.
Epsom salt has become a common home remedy for various problems and has several claimed health and beauty benefits. For many years, people have recommended soaking the feet or taking a bath in Epsom salt for various reasons. Potential reasons for doing so include:
- To soothe muscle aches and pain
- To provide relief from itches caused by sunburn and poison ivy
- To help remove splinters
- To decrease swelling in the body
- To boost the body's levels of magnesium and sulfate
- The theory behind this product is that the body absorbs the magnesium from the Epsom salt through the skin. However, there are no studies that support this claim. While there is no evidence to support the benefits of Epsom salt, simply soaking in warm water can help with many of the issues listed above.
Diabetes and foot complications
. To understand why people with diabetes should not soak in Epsom salt, it is important to know how diabetes can affect the feet.
High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the nerves of the body. This is commonly referred to as neuropathy. The most common type of neuropathy for people with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves that serve the legs and arms.
As a result, people with diabetes may lose feeling in their feet. It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to be unable to feel pain, heat, or cold in their legs or feet. Some may not notice when they have a sore on their foot or have developed a blister.
Open sores on the feet can easily become infected. Raised blood sugar levels help to feed the infection in open wounds making it worse. Poor circulation makes healing these sores difficult.
Common foot problems that can cause infections in people with diabetes include:
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar warts
- Dry and cracked skin
- Athlete's foot
- Fungal infection
People with diabetes should look out for the signs of an infection in their foot. If any appear, they should contact their doctor immediately. Signs and symptoms include pus, redness, increasing pain, and warm skin.
Diabetes also causes changes to the skin of the foot. People with diabetes may notice that their feet are extremely dry, and the skin may start to peel and crack. The nerves that control the oil and moisture in the feet stop working, leading to overly dry skin.
People with diabetes may develop poor circulation which makes it hard to fight infection and to heal properly. This problem is known as peripheral artery disease. The blood vessels in the feet and legs also narrow and harden.
If an infection becomes too severe or doesn't heal properly, it can cause gangrene. If gangrene develops, the skin and tissue around the sore dies. The area turns a blackish color and develops a bad smell.
In addition to pain, nerve damage can also lead to food deformities. Hammertoes or collapsed arches may be a problem.
Soaking the feet is not recommended for people with diabetes
Soaking the feet can dry out the skin, which can further irritate foot issues People with diabetes tend to have dry feet and the Epsom salt bath may only make the condition worse. Prolonged soaking can also open small cracks that may be present in the skin, allowing germs to enter.
While an Epsom salt foot soak may sound good, no type of foot soak is recommended for people with diabetes.