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What are diabetes-related foot problems?

Diabetes-related foot conditions are common complications of diabetes. Individuals with diabetes can develop a variety of foot problems that can lead to serious complications, even amputation. These problems most often occur because of nerve damage, also called neuropathy. Nerve damage can cause changes in the skin of the foot, calluses, cracking, foot ulcers, infection and poor circulation.


Diabetes-related foot conditions often start with minor symptoms. However, when left untreated, these conditions can become serious. These symptoms include:

  • Numbness, tingling or loss of feeling
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Frequent infections that are not easily healed
  • Changes in the shape of the feet or toes
  • Calluses
  • Foot ulcers
  • Poor circulation
  • Cold feet


Diabetics are far more likely to require a foot or leg to be amputated than other people. This is because often diabetics have artery disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet and nerve disease, which reduces sensation. This combination can result in it being easier to get ulcers and infections of the feet. One of the primary causes of reduced blood flow to the feet is smoking, which affects blood vessels, decreases blood flow and makes wounds heal slowly.

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