When you are a person with diabetes, practicing proper foot care can mean the difference between having healthy feet and facing a lower extremity amputation. It's important to understand what foot ulcers are, how diabetics get them, and how they are treated.
What is a diabetic foot ulcer?
A diabetic foot ulcer is the breakdown of skin on the foot. It could be a something like a cut, sore, or callus. However, the issue is that diabetics have problems like nerve damage and poor circulation, which means they have trouble feeling when their feet are injured and may underestimate the severity. If they do find the foot ulcer, it can still be really tough because diabetics will often have trouble healing.
How do diabetics get foot ulcers?
A common cause of foot ulcers is poorly fitting footwear. With the rubbing and pressure that comes along with shoes that don't fit, it makes it easy for calluses, corns, blisters, and sores to form. Some diabetics may not even realize their shoes don't fit properly because their nerve damage blocks pain signals. This means their shoes may be hurting their feet every single day and they have no idea because they have no feeling in their feet.
How are foot ulcers treated?
Your treatment well depend on the severity of the wound, but there's standard procedure for conventional foot ulcers:
- Debridement. A podiatrist will clean the ulcer and then remove any infected or dead tissue from around it. They will probably put some kind of medicine on it and wrap it up in a bandage.
- Keep pressure off your foot. Depending on the injury, your doctor may put you in a cast, boot, or on crutches. The goal is to stay off your feet as often as you can to avoid any further injury and to give the wound time to heal.
- Regular doctor visits. Until the wound is healed, your podiatrist will probably recommend visiting their office a couple times a week so that he or she can assess the wound, make sure it's getting better, and adjust the treatment if it improvements aren’t happening quickly enough.
Diabetics should take the health of their feet very seriously. Remember, a small cut has the ability to turn in to something much worse.