About 15% of diabetic patients can expect to be troubled by diabetic ulcers, which are open wounds that usually appear on the bottoms of the feet or other areas of the foot and ankle that are prone to pressure.
Why do diabetic ulcers occur?
Blood circulation tends to be poor in diabetic patients because high levels of sugar damage blood vessels. High sugar levels also damage nerve cells, so patients are not always aware of small injuries or problems such as having, say, a pebble in one’s shoe. This can lead to inflammation and eventually to open sores, which can become infected and spread infection as far inward as the bone. Diabetic foot ulcers are the leading cause of foot amputation in the United States.
How can diabetic ulcers be prevented?
- Keep blood sugar levels under control, with an HbA1c level of under 7.0 or as recommended by your physician.
- Keep your weight under control.
- Wear well-fitting shoes at all times, including slippers when at home.
- Don’t wear pantyhose, high heels, or flip-flops.
- Inspect your feet every day for cuts, cracks, blisters or redness. Report any abnormalities to your physician without delay.
- Trim your toenails straight across, or have it done by a podiatrist.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Keep cholesterol within normal limits.
- Wash your feet at least once a day, dry carefully, and use a moisturizer.
How are diabetic ulcers treated?
- Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
- Good blood sugar control is essential to prevent infection.
- Dead tissue should be removed by an expert or under guidance.
- Dressings that create a clean, moist environment allow tissues to drain while healing.
- Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to prevent or treat infections and allow healing to take place.
- A cast can be placed to take pressure off the wound while it is healing.
- Re-checks are mandatory to make sure the wound is healing as expected.