Preventing & Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers – A Comprehensive Guide

Preventing Treating

Diabetic Foot Ulcers: A Comprehensive Guide

Diabetic foot ulcers are a common complication of diabetes and can be a major source of physical, emotional and financial stress for patients. Fortunately, people living with diabetes can take preventative steps and treat their ulcers safely and effectively.

What Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic foot ulcers are slow-healing open sores that can develop as a result of nerve damage, or neuropathy, caused by diabetes. They commonly develop on the sole of the foot, and can range from small, superficial wounds to large, deep ulcers that may require surgery to heal. Diabetes-related ulcers often take longer to heal and are more prone to infection than other types of wounds.

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High Risk Factors for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

There are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a diabetic foot ulcer, including:

  • Peripheral Artery Disease: Poor blood circulation reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the feet, slowing the healing process.
  • High Blood Sugar: Long-term episodes of high blood glucose can lead to poor peripheral circulation or damage to nerves in the foot.
  • Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for developing diabetic foot ulcers, as it reduces the available oxygen in tissues and inhibits healing.
  • Foot Deformities: Bunions, hammertoes and other deformities may cause pressure points that lead to ulcers.

Preventing Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Early detection and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers is key for avoiding serious complications, and there are several steps you can take to prevent ulcer formation:

  • Check Your Feet Daily: Inspecting your feet regularly will allow you to catch any wounds or signs of infection early on.
  • Keep Your Feet Clean: Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water and dry them thoroughly, paying special attention to the webbing and between your toes.
  • Wear Appropriate Shoes: Avoid walking barefoot and wear comfortable shoes that provide ample protection and cushioning.
  • Manage Blood Sugar Levels: Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk of nerve and blood vessel damage, and thus increase circulation.

Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Once an ulcer forms, it is important to seek medical care right away to avoid further complications. Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments depending on the severity of your wound, such as:

  • Medications: Antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection and other medications to reduce inflammation or pain.
  • Nutritional Supplements: Vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements that may help reduce inflammation and promote wound healing.
  • Offloading: Special devices such as shoes, walkers or cast boots that distribute weight away from the ulcer.
  • Debridement: The removal of dead or damaged tissue from the wound.
  • Tissue Irrigation: Intense cleansing of the wound site with sterile saline solution.

Diabetic foot ulcers can be challenging to manage, but with the right preventative measures and treatments, it is possible to avoid serious complications and keep them under control. Taking care of your feet is essential if you have diabetes, so be sure to inspect your feet regularly and follow your doctor’s recommendations to keep them in optimal health.

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