Diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds or sores that occur in certain people with poorly managed diabetes. Without an effective wound management treatment plan, ulcer-related infection or complications can arise.
Diabetic foot ulcers commonly occur on the sole, or bottom of the foot. Diabetes is a primary cause of lower extremity amputation related to non-traumatic causes, and up to 24% of those who develop foot ulcers may require amputations.
With proper blood glucose control, diabetic foot ulcers may be preventable. People using insulin may be a greater risks for developing foot ulcers related to diabetes, as are those with other diabetes-related illness of the heart, kidney and eye. Obesity, as well as tobacco and alcohol use, may also increase the risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer.
Primary Wound Management
The primary wound management goal in the patient with a diabetic foot ulcer is to achieve healing as quickly as possible to minimize the risk of infection. Components of an effective wound management program include taking pressure off the affected area and applying medications and sterile dressings to the area. In certain cases, a procedure known as debridement is necessary to facilitate healing, and involves the removal of necrotic, or dead skin from the affected area.
Managing Blood Sugar Levels
Managing blood glucose levels and treating other chronic health problems also helps promote healing of diabetic foot ulcers. While not all ulcers become infected, if a wound culture determines that a bacterial infection is present, a treatment regimen of antibiotics will be ordered by the physician.
For ambulatory patients, wound management sometimes includes “off-loading.” This refers to reducing irritation and pressure to the area by using special footwear, casts, braces, crutches or a wheelchair. When the diabetic foot ulcer is free from irritation and pressure, it can help speed the healing process.
Open To Air
Wound care management has changed dramatically over the past decade, when proper wound care included keeping the wound open to air. Wounds heal quicker, and become infected less often when they are covered and kept moist.
Diabetes not only predisposes you to foot ulcers, it can also raise your risk for infection from the slightest injury. It is important for diabetic to seek care from a foot doctor at the first sign of injury. Also, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your foot doctor when you need to have your toenails trimmed.
Incorrectly cutting your toenails, or accidentally nipping yourself with the toenail clippers may result in a serious tissue infection. Having a professional cut your toenails reduces the risk of infection, while allowing for a complete foot examination in the process.
Taking steps to decrease your risk of developing decubitus ulcers is important. Managing your weight, not smoking, complying with your medication treatment protocol, managing stress and following your therapeutic diet all help improve your immune function while improving circulation. Also, wearing shoes that fit properly may also reduce your risk of developing a pressure sore on your foot, so talk to your doctor about the best types of shoes to wear.