Foot ulcers among diabetics are a common problem. Studies have shown that diabetics using insulin and people belonging to a certain race or ethnicity (like Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics) are at a higher risk of developing foot ulcers. The good news is that it is preventable and you may be wondering how to care for diabetic foot ulcers. If yes, then read further.
If a diabetic consumes alcohol and/or smokes and is overweight, then the chances of developing a foot ulcer are more. It is important to know what causes diabetic foot ulcers.
Neurotrophic or Diabetic Ulcers
This type normally affects people who have an impaired nervous sensation on their feet. They primarily affect people with Diabetes, which gradually leads to lower extremity amputation.
Neuropathy is a condition which is noticed in diabetic patients that lead to these ulcers. It is because of the decreased blood supply to the feet and oxygen depletion that causes the nerves to shrink, resulting in ulcers.
Venous Statis Ulcers
Venous Statis means that there is minimal blood flow in the veins of the feet, which can direct to blood clots. These types of ulcers are majorly found in people with recurrent swelling in the legs, varicose veins or frequent blood clots.
Arterial or Ischemic Ulcers
These ulcers are again a result for arteriosclerosis- a condition in which the arteries in the body narrow and become hard. This is due to the fatty deposits that are stored inside the walls of the arteries, which slows down the flow of the blood to the lower limbs in the body.
Why Care For Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Many a time diabetic patients ignore the foot ulcers even if they are aware of it. They feel that a small sore is harmless, would heal with time, and is not worth the trouble of going in for treatment.
It is said that around 15% of diabetics are likely to get foot ulcers and an alarmingly high 14-24% of these will actually end up requiring an amputation. Diabetic wound care is therefore in the interests of the diabetics and can prove to be lifesavers. If you do develop foot ulcers then don’t think twice before getting medical help as it is better to be safe than be sorry.
How To Care For Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Prevention is better than cure. These are the measures that you may apply for prevention and care of foot ulcers occurring due to diabetes.
1. Maintain Your Feet
Always wash your feet well and keep them clean using pat dry methods. If required apply moisturizing creams that can help avoid cracks that may lead to ulcers in the long run.
2. Allow Your Feet To Breathe
Do not wear any tight socks, shoes or sandals that can give you a shoe bite or decrease the blood circulation in the feet there by giving you a foot ulcer. In other words, make sure that your feet get many opportunities to breathe. Also the shoes or sandals should have proper padding to assist your feet.
3. Watch Out For Sores
Sometimes, despite the best of care, sores may occur due to the diabetic conditions of the body. Make sure that checking your feet is a part of your daily routine. Especially if you find that your socks reek or that you find marks on the socks indicating drainage from a sore. At times, you may find some visible signs like the sore itself, swelling or discoloration that is an indication about the appearance of sores.
4. Trim Your Nails
Maintain good foot hygiene by regularly trimming your nails. Most often, diabetics are asked to also visit podiatrists who help them with the foot care.
5. Seek Help
Once a foot ulcer is noticed, immediate care should be taken and medical treatment sought in order to avoid any further complications. Keeping a check and regulating the blood sugar levels is an important part of the diabetic foot ulcer care.
6. Keep Infection At Bay
Infections are common in diabetic foot ulcers and when the infection is not controlled or cared for, it leads to complications that may even end in amputations in an effort to save lives.
To ensure that infections don’t happen, proper medical help should be sought for cleaning and dressing the wound. The podiatrists usually provide you with enough guidance on the dos and don’ts, which need to be strictly followed.
7. Do Not Walk Barefoot
Whether you already have ulcers or not, ensure that, you do not walk barefoot, increasing your chances of getting an ulcer. If you already have an ulcer and it is bandaged, make sure that it is kept clean and walking barefoot is a big no in such a case. The chances of infection are more when you do that.
8. Take The Weight Off The Feet
If you have an ulcer that is on the way to heal, then try to keep the weight off that foot as much as you can. You may use crutches or wheelchairs for this as the case may be, depending on your convenience.
9. Ensure Blood Circulation
For the wounds to heal, it is important to ensure proper blood circulation in the area. Keeping the weight off can be a good step in this direction. However, if you are already struggling with issues related to neuropathy, then once again your podiatrist can help you with this by conducting few tests to determine the blood flow levels. Further treatment options will be suggested as appropriate by the podiatrist.
10. Avoid Risk Factors
Last but not the least; avoid any kind of risk factors that can increase the chances of getting a diabetic foot ulcer. Maintain a prescribed healthy diet, exercise as required; avoid unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking that can become contributory factors.
Watch the blood sugar as well as the blood pressure levels with regular visits for checkups. Discuss all issues openly with your doctor on the chances of getting foot ulcers and the complications therein.
It is always important to understand the disease and the complications that can occur due to it and take preventive measures for ensuring a long, healthy life. Since foot ulcers are something that most diabetics seem to get, it is better to be knowledgeable, prevent, and care for them. Avoid amputations, and stay safe and happy.