A diabetic foot ulcer, also known as an open sore or wound, develops in a small percentage of diabetes patients. Diabetic wounds typically develop at the bottom of the foot due to a variety of factors, including improper wound care and diabetes management. Patients with diabetes need to be particularly careful about wound care, as the risk of amputation in diabetic patients can be high.
Special care is needed
Patients with diabetes must take special care of all wounds to prevent complications, or worse, amputation. Diabetes drastically increases a person’s chance of developing severe foot wounds. Recognizing the signs of a sore or infection is crucial.
Daily check-ins for symptoms
One of the most important factors that increases the risk of diabetic wounds is the lack of sensitivity that develops in the feet. This condition, called neuropathy, is extremely common in people with diabetes. Cardiovascular issues and nerve damage combine to make wound detection difficult for these patients.
Patients should check every day for blisters, cracks, cuts, calluses, swelling, and other foot problems. Patients can also use a handheld mirror, if needed, or ask for help from friends and family to check the bottoms of feet for wounds.
Proper hygiene and wound care
Diabetic wounds can be prevented with proper foot hygiene and care. Diabetic patients should practice proper hygiene every day by washing with lukewarm water and mild soap and drying feet completely afterward. Lotions can keep feet moisturized and reduce blister formation. Patients should avoid applying lotion between the toes since this area is the perfect environment for bacteria.
Shoes should be tight and secure, but also provide the toes with plenty of space to breathe. Orthopedic shoes can make walking more comfortable and reduce irritation and discomfort. Shoes should be used at home to avoid stepping on something or getting hurt in some other way. Patients should wear clean and dry socks that wick moisture away.
In most cases, diabetic wound complications are preventable. Elevated blood glucose levels can add extra strain on the body’s ability to fight infection and heal. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and taking all prescribed medications can reduce the chance of complications. Smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as high cholesterol, will slow wound healing.
Diabetic patients should book an annual appointment for a doctor to perform a comprehensive foot examination. A podiatrist or other physician will look for redness, swelling, nerve damage, infection, and other issues that complicate diabetic wounds. In some cases, patients who have diabetic wound ulcers may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Catching the signs early
Most patients with diabetic wounds don’t notice the pain immediately. Patients may experience slight swelling, redness, leaky fluid, or odors. Any sign of a diabetic wound should be checked out by a doctor to reduce the risk of complications. A specialist can develop a personalized care plan to improve wound healing.