Podiatric Care For Immunocompromised Patients With Neuropathy

Your peripheral nervous system transports messages between your brain and the rest of your body. When the peripheral nerves are damaged, known as neuropathy, a number of bodily functions, such as muscle movement and stimulus perception, can be hindered. You can develop neuropathy for a number of reasons, but patients who take immunosuppressant drugs or have an underlying health condition that compromises the immune system, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus or inflammatory bowel disease, are at an increased risk of developing the condition. Here's an overview of how a podiatrist can help immunocompromised patients with two types of neuropathy that can impact foot health:

Sensory Neuropathy

Sensory neuropathy can cause numbness in your feet, which leaves you unable to determine if your feet are hot or cold and unable to tell if your feet are sore. This may not sound serious, but when you are immunocompromised a small cut or blister is susceptible to infection due to your white cell count being low. If you don't clean and dress a cut as soon as the injury occurs because you're not aware of it, bacteria can quickly colonise your foot and foot ulcers can develop.

A daily foot care routine can allow you to spot lesions on your feet before infection sets in. However, if you're unable to trim your own toenails and bend down or lift your feet to check the soles, having your nails trimmed and feet examined regularly by a podiatrist can prevent you having to take a long course of antibiotics. Infections can be difficult to tackle in those with compromised immune systems, and if a foot ulcer develops, you'll likely need to endure having it drained and daily gauze bandage changes.

Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy can cause the skin on your feet to crack. This occurs as a result of your sweat glands not functioning properly when certain nerves are damaged. When you're immunocompromised, it's common to develop viral infections, such as plantar warts, and fungal infections when you have dry, cracked feet.

A podiatrist will develop a daily foot care plan to hydrate and repair the skin on your feet. If you've already developed a fungal infection, you may find that topical antifungals aren't enough to eradicate the fungus due to your weakened immune response. Your podiatrist can use laser therapy to kill off the fungus and encourage the regeneration of healthy skin. They can also use laser therapy to kill plantar warts by destroying the cells that provide blood flow to the wart.

If you have a compromised immune system, regular foot exams can detect early signs of neuropathy and combat problems before the health of your feet suffers.