Diabetic Foot Ulcers: What You Need To Know

How are foot ulcers treated?

Diabetic foot ulcers can cause serious complications, including bone infections and gangrene. In extreme cases, limbs with severe ulcers will require amputation. Ulcers should be treated seriously and promptly, and should be examined by a doctor. Treatment may include:

  • Removing pressure from the area. This includes staying off the ulcerated foot. A doctor may prescribe special shoes to relieve pressure.
  • Debridement. This process involves a medical professional removing dead tissue.
  • Maintaining proper glucose control. This is also an important prevention strategy, but better glucose control will also help wounds to heal more efficiently.
  • Use of doctor-prescribed home treatments or ointments.
  • In severe cases, amputation may be necessary if the ulcer is neglected.
Photo: AdobeStock/OlegD
Photo: AdobeStock/OlegD

Prevention Strategies

With good prevention practices, diabetic ulcers can be treated long before drastic measures are needed and in some cases avoided altogether. Keeping feet clean, comfortable, and inspected can go a long way in preventing ulcers. Prevention strategies include:

  • Daily inspection of feet. Any cuts or wounds should be treated promptly. Find out more about diabetic wound care here.
  • Keeping feet clean. Wash feet with warm water—neuropathy may make feet unable to feel when water is too hot. Dry feet completely and moisturize on tops and bottoms, but keep the areas between the toes dry.
  • Trimming toenails carefully. Toenails that are too long may rub against shoes and cause discomfort, and toenails cut too short could become ingrown. The American Diabetes Association has some great tips for proper foot care and nail trimming.
  • Not going barefoot. Going barefoot puts the feet at greater risk of being cut or punctured.
  • Wearing clean, dry socks. Click here for sock-buying tips for people with diabetes.
  • Wearing comfortable, properly-fitting shoes. Shoes that pinch or rub are more likely to cause sores. Choose shoes that are supportive and that cushion your feet. Be good to your feet—there’s a lot riding on them!
Photo: AdobeStock/veles_studio
Photo: AdobeStock/veles_studio

Remember, most foot ulcers do not require amputation and will heal. But even a small ulcer is painful and frustrating, so talk to your doctor about how to best avoid them. Stay healthy and stand tall!

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