One of the US’ top diabetes medics has warned of the potential harms of pedicures to the 37 million Americans who have the chronic condition.
Diabetes, which increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and dementia, is characterized by high blood sugars – which damage nerves in the lower limbs.
The nerve problems prevent wounds in the area from healing properly – making them a fertile ground for infection.
Foot treatments like pedicures are particularly risky, due to the likelihood of getting cut or wounded by sharp instruments designed to smooth skin and nails.
‘A minor nick during a pedicure or excessive pressure during a leg massage could potentially spiral into serious complications,’ Dr David Armstrong, Professor of Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, told Medscape.com.
Pedicures are risky for diabetics because the tiniest cut could lead to a disasterous infection
Complications include infections and ulcers which, he says, ‘in grave scenarios may necessitate amputation’.
Some 154,000 amputations occur every year in the United States – the majority of which are preventable, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The risk of limb loss is massively reduced with good blood sugar control, by way of medication or significant weight loss.
Some medics say pedicures are unsafe for diabetics – and patients should avoid them altogether.
Some 154,000 amputations are carried out in diabetics every year, and most are preventable
But Dr Armstrong, who is the President of the American Limb Preservation Society, says foot pampering is not off the cards.
Patients can have the treatment so long as they ‘consult with their podiatrist or healthcare provider’ beforehand – and adhere to his list of ‘precautionary measures that ensure a safe experience’.
If diabetics do this, the overall risk of complications from pedicures is ‘low’.
Four rules to make your pedicure safe, according to a foot doctor.
People with diabetes are at risk of serious infections, should they be struck by an accidental cut on the foot. Here are four vital pre-pedicure tips by top surgeon, Dr David Armstrong.
Top foot surgeon Dr David Armstrong gives his four vital tips for a less risky pedicure
- Avoid pedicures if you have active infections, open sores or cuts on the feet.
- Never shave your legs in the two days before having a pedicure, as accidental cuts could serve as entry points for infection.
- Always ask that foot baths and tools are properly sterilized, or bring your own kit.
- Visit a salon rather than attempting to DIY a pedicure. You’re more likely to get injured if you carry out the treatment yourself.