· Nerve and vascular damage are common diabetes complications, which can lead to the loss of protective sensation in the extremities and make detecting wounds difficult.
· As a result, people with diabetes can be more susceptible to infection and their wounds can often be slow healing.
· Special care needs to be taken of any abrasion or cut, particularly of those found on the feet.
What is a diabetic foot ulcer?
· A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that is most commonly found on the bottom of the foot.
· People with diabetes who are using insulin are at a higher risk of developing a foot ulcer, as are patients who have diabetes-related kidney, eye, and heart disease.
· Diabetic foot ulcers are at very high risk of becoming infected, and sometimes they cannot be healed.
· Non-healing foot ulcers are a frequent cause of amputation in people with diabetes.
· Patients with foot ulcers may use wound dressings, skin substitutes, or other treatments to protect and heal their skin.
How do diabetic foot ulcers form?
· Ulcers form due to a combination of factors: poor circulation, lack of feeling in the feet, foot deformities, irritations, and trauma.
· After many years, diabetes can cause neuropathy, which is a reduced or complete lack of feeling in the feet due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time.
· Vascular disease can complicate a foot ulcer, reducing the body’s ability to heal and increasing the risk of infection.
· High blood sugars can also reduce the body’s ability to combat potential infection and can slow the healing process.
How is a diabetic foot ulcer treated?
Once an ulcer is detected, seek the care of your podiatrist immediately. There are several key factors in the appropriate treatment of a foot ulcer:
· Maintaining good blood glucose control.
· Prevention of infection.
· Raking the pressure off the area, called “off-loading.”
· Removing dead skin and tissue, called “debridement.”
· Applying medication or dressings to the ulcer.
· Keep the ulcer clean and bandaged.
· Do not walk barefoot.
To heal as quickly as possible, foot ulcers must be “off-loaded.” Patients may be asked to wear special footgear or utilize a wheelchair or crutches to reduce pressure and irritation to the ulcer area.
Wounds heal faster, with a lower risk of infection, if they are kept covered and moist.
Work closely with your medical team and your podiatrist to ensure the fastest healing possible.
How can a foot ulcer be prevented?
There are several precautions you can take to prevent a diabetic foot ulcer.
· Maintain good blood glucose control.
· See a podiatrist on a regular basis.
· Wash feet daily.
· Inspect your feet and toes daily.
· Maintain a healthy weight.
· Wear thick, soft socks.
· Stop smoking.
· Cut toenails straight across instead of rounding the edges.
· Exercise regularly.
· Be properly measured and fitted every time you buy new shoes.
· Do not walk around barefoot.
· Never try to remove calluses, corns, or warts by yourself.
You may be at high risk for a diabetic foot ulcer if you have uncontrolled blood glucose, have neuropathy, have poor circulation, have a foot deformity such as a bunion, and wear inappropriate shoes.
For people with diabetes, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Keeping your blood glucose in good control and regularly inspecting your extremities for any cuts or abrasions can help keep your feet wound-free.