The treatment of diabetic wounds on the feet is of greater concern than a wound of a healthy person. Foot issues that heal easily for most can become inflamed and infected in diabetic patients.
Foot ulcers are common with diabetics and involve an open wound on the bottom of the foot. About 15% of diabetic patients will develop this problem and 6% will end up hospitalized as a result. If left untreated, an exacerbated wound could result in amputation. It’s important to consult with a physician upon first sign of an ulcer. Proper foot care will help to prevent them.
A combination of different factors increase the chance of a foot ulcer. Diabetics taking insulin are at higher risk. Drinking and smoking are also high risk factors. The ulcer itself stems from poor circulation, irritation and trauma. Some patients lack sensation in their feet due to nerve damage, causing them not to feel pain from the ulcer.
Diabetic foot ulcers are not always painful due to the lack of sensation in the foot from diabetes. The wound may begin as a swollen, red area and progress to be an open indentation in the foot with some odor.
The sooner the patient sees a physician, the better, in order to ward off amputation whenever possible. Treatment may entail several different steps including taking pressure off the effected area, removing dead skin and tissue, applying medication and dressings and managing blood glucose and other health issues. Keeping the wound clean is imperative to preventing progression of the infection. The patient should avoid walking barefoot and change the dressing daily. It is recommended that patients inspect their feet daily for the early warning signs – cracks, redness, blisters or other irritation to prevent foot ulcers and wear comfortable shoes and socks. Keeping blood glucose in check will also help to ward off ulcers.
In cases where the infection has spread and methods of controlling it have not worked, surgery may be necessary. In some cases, the surgeon may excise bone. Healing my take several weeks to months.