Diabetes Care: Recognizing and Preventing Chronic Foot Wounds
Diabetes care includes watching for wounds that don’t heal properly. Foot wounds are a diabetic complication that may be easy to ignore when feeling sensation isn’t 100 percent due to neuropathy. Additionally, poor blood flow to the extremities can be problematic because your foot doesn’t heal as quickly as it should. Untreated chronic wounds can lead to infections and even death from the infection if not properly treated. Below are four conditions to watch for and provide diabetes care treatment as soon as possible:
- Changes in skin on your foot. Because of diabetes, nerves that control oil production for the skin may no longer work. Skin becomes dry and may crack. Seal in moisture after bathing by applying a thin coat of unscented cream or petroleum jelly while skin is still damp. However, avoid oil or cream between the toes because of infection risk with trapped moisture.
- Calluses. Keep calluses in check by using a pumice stone on wet skin. Then apply lotion after bathing. If the callus is thick, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to remove them. Ignoring the situation can allow a callus to turn into an open sore, and cutting them yourself can also cause infection or ulcers.
- Neuropathy. Nerve damage is known as neuropathy, and is known by tingling or numbness, pain or a loss of feeling. While your doctor may treat neuropathy in a variety of ways, you can avoid wound complications by checking your feet daily. Without proper feeling, you could have something in your shoe that irritates your foot and not know about it.
- Ulcers or sores. If you notice a sore on the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe, please make an appointment to see your doctor. Your healthcare provider may want to treat the wound specifically with cleaning and antibiotics, and also make sure that the bone is not infected. Walking can make an ulcer worse, so it’s important to stay off your feet as much as possible and get care.
How to Avoid or Minimize Foot Wounds for Diabetes Care
One part of diabetes care is the need to pay attention to your feet, because neuropathy prevents feeling. Without a sensation of pain, you may not know that you have a wound that needs medical care. Here are six things you can do to minimize or prevent a wound from getting out of control:
- Don’t smoke. Smoking affects the small blood vessels which can decrease blood flow to the feet. Wounds heal more slowly without blood flow.
- Wash, dry and examine feet daily, being careful to dry between the toes.
- Warm your feet with socks, not hot water or a heater. If your feet have reduced feeling, you may burn them unknowingly.
- Wear shoes or slippers indoors and outside, and examine footwear before putting it on to make sure that there is nothing inside that could cause an irritation to the bottom of the foot.
- Wear clean socks every day, preferably not up to the knee and with seams on the outside of the sock.
- Keep your blood glucose in target range through diet, exercise and medication prescribed by your doctor. Blood sugar regulation can prevent or delay diabetic complications.
Up to 25 percent of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer. Left untreated, the complications can lead to the need to amputate toes, the foot, or the infection can turn deadly. Please take care of your feet, watch for complications and see your doctor at least annually for proper diabetes care.