Diabetic foot ulcers refers to a patch of worn away skin usually located on the lower leg or feet. When blood sugar levels rise or fluctuate regularly, skin that would heal in a normal amount of time may take longer or not properly repair itself at all because of reduced nerve functioning known as peripheral diabetic neuropathy. This means that the nerves that normally would carry pain sensation to the brain from the feet do not function as well, which basically implies that damage to your foot can occur and you wouldn’t be aware of it from the lack of sensation. Stepping on something, wearing tight shoes and socks, cuts, blisters and bruises can all develop into a diabetic foot ulcer.
What makes foot ulcers so serious, is that it can develop rather quickly if it’s not treated in the early stages, which can lead to amputation. As the soft tissue of the foot is susceptible to easy damage, infection can reach the muscle and bone very quickly, causing more serious complications. What ultimately leads to an amputation is an infection, so if you suspect you have a foot ulcer, you must speak to your doctor immediately.
In the case that you do get a foot ulcer, you need to keep your blood sugars within the normal range and follow up regularly with your doctor. It’s important no never let a wound hang around without seeking treatment. As time goes by, the chances of the ulcer healing will decrease. Be sure to seek advice and medical attention from your doctor or podiatrist right away.
Here are some tips on preventing foot ulcers:
- Monitor your blood sugar.
The most effective way to prevent diabetic foot ulcers is to maintain your blood sugar levels within the normal range. If your glucose is not controlled, it can cause neuropathy which presents the loss of feeling in your feet and may give way for an ulcer to go unnoticed. Keeping a close watch on your blood glucose levels will also assist any sores on the foot heal more quickly. In effect, this can prevent ulcers from developing at all.
- Pay attention to your feet.
If you are a diabetic, it’s important to conduct daily inspections of your feet. Noticing a sore early can prevent major problems in the future. If you can’t see the soles of your feet, try putting a mirror on the floor and hold each foot above it. Or ask for help from a family member to check all areas of your feet regularly.
- Wear proper fitting footwear.
Reducing pressure in the wrong areas of your feet is vital to preventing sores which can lead to ulcers. This includes wearing proper fitting shoes, custom-made insoles and performing proper foot hygiene.
The typical way to treat a foot ulcer is debridement, where a doctor removes unhealthy tissue from the wound. Removing this damaged tissue prompts the body’s natural healing mechanism.A dressing to the wound will be applied by your doctor, which will need to be changed on a regular basis.
You will be required to “offload” the affected part of the foot. Continued pressure on the sore will only cause more damage, so you’ll most likely need to wear a cast or surgical shoe/boot which will alleviate the pressure on the injured site while the ulcer heals.
If the would hasn’t healed within four weeks or you have developed a bone infection, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatments, such as:
- Living cellular skin substitute
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is inhaling pure oxygen in a pressurised room to promote healing of the wound.
VitaminC, zinc and protein obtained from good nutrition will provide your body with the necessary tools for faster wound healing, therefore, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important. Staying active will help improve insulin sensitivity. This will in effect help glucose in the bloodstream enter your cells more efficiently, promoting healing and improved overall health.