How to Avoid Diabetic Ulcer Complications
Unfortunately, wound complications are a serious problem for people with diabetes, especially involving the feet. In fact, approximately 15% of Americans with diabetes end up developing a foot ulcer at some point.
Of those with foot ulcers, 6% require hospitalization due to infection or other ulcer complications.
A diabetic ulcer is an open wound on your skin that heals slowly, which puts you at risk of infection, gangrene, and even amputation. In most cases, these skin injuries develop on your lower extremities, such as your toes, feet, ankles, and legs. But they can also form on your stomach or hands.
Our team at Wound Evolution - Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine has extensive experience treating diabetic ulcers. With our personalized and innovative treatment strategies, we strive to heal wounds as quickly as possible, preserve limbs, and prevent amputation.
If you have diabetes, take these steps to avoid diabetic ulcer complications.
Check your skin every day
When you have diabetes, keep a close eye on your skin. Each day, check your entire body, including the bottoms of your feet and between your toes, for problems or changes. For example, look for signs of irritation or discoloration and blisters, cuts, or sores.
Other things to watch for include:
- Redness, swelling, or rashes
- Bad odor
- Loss of hair on your toes
- Nail changes, like deformities, stripes, thickening, discoloration, or lack of growth
Any of these issues can quickly turn into ulcers that become infected and slow to heal. That makes early detection extremely important so you can begin treatment as quickly as possible.
Practice good foot care
Diabetes can restrict blood flow to your extremities, especially areas below your knees. It’s also common to experience nerve damage that interferes with your ability to feel properly, especially in your feet.
To properly care for your feet, we recommend:
- Washing them each day in warm water
- Gently drying them with a soft towel, including between your toes
- Applying a moisturizer on the tops and bottoms to prevent cracks from forming
- Trimming toenails straight across 一 never curved 一 and carefully smoothing sharp corners with a nail file
- Scheduling regular foot care checks with a doctor or podiatrist
If you notice foot problems like corns, warts, or bunions, work with a professional to treat them. Never attempt to remove them yourself.
Wear the right footwear
If you have diabetes, avoid going barefoot, even in your house. Instead, protect your feet from injury by wearing shoes that fit properly and provide the right amount of support and cushioning. And it doesn’t stop with your shoes, either.
When choosing socks and stockings, avoid any options with tight elastic that can irritate your skin or reduce circulation. Instead, wear clean, dry socks with moisture-wicking fabric that draw sweat away from your skin.
For an added boost of dryness protection, sprinkle cornstarch or talcum powder between your toes before putting socks on to keep moisture at bay throughout the day.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
To avoid diabetic foot ulcers and the risk of complications, watch your blood sugar and make healthy lifestyle choices.
To start, if you smoke, it’s time to quit. Smoking can worsen circulation and reduce the amount of oxygen you have in your blood. The result? More severe wounds and poor healing.
We also recommend following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. These healthy lifestyle choices help balance blood sugar and support the healing process if you develop a diabetic ulcer.
Work with a specialist
Last but not least, seek professional care immediately if you notice signs of a problem. Unfortunately, more than 80% of amputations start because of a foot ulcer, so early detection is crucial to avoid complications.
During your assessment, we carefully evaluate your diabetic ulcer and the extent of your condition. Then we create a personalized treatment strategy to help prevent it from worsening and becoming infected.
Don’t put yourself at risk for diabetic ulcer complications. Contact one of our convenient Wound Evolution locations to schedule a consultation today. We have locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, Texas, as well as Overland Park, Kansas.