Proper wound care of diabetic ulcers may help prevent the development of wet gangrene.
Patients who suffer from diabetes may be at risk for a number of health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and even blindness if the condition is not treated properly. Additionally, some individuals may be faced with arterial insufficiency when blood flow in the legs is decreased. Symptoms may include foot wounds that require diabetic foot care for successful treatment. If these open wounds are not treated, patients face risk of diabetic gangrene, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.
What is Gangrene?
When blood flow is limited, tissue may begin to decay, resulting in an environment that allows bacteria to thrive. The Mayo Clinic explains that this type of infection comes in a variety of forms, with wet gangrene being most common among diabetics. The bacterial infection that causes the gangrene leads to a wet appearance, in addition to blistering and swelling. Other symptoms diabetics should watch out for include a change in skin color (generally from red to brown or black), pus being discharged from the blisters and a fever. It is important for patients to see a clinician immediately so that the wound can be treated, as wet gangrene spreads quickly and can be fatal.
Once diabetic gangrene has been diagnosed by a medical professional, it’s important that steps for treatment be taken quickly. Most commonly, clinicians will use oxygen therapy to treat diabetic gangrene. The patient will be scheduled for a session in which he or she is put in a high pressure oxygen chamber. This allows the blood to be saturated with oxygen, which lets the tissue that has been infected with gangrene to heal. Additionally, the bacteria is unable to thrive in this oxygen-rich environment, which makes it unlikely to spread.
Once the infection has been eliminated, it’s important that patients prevent gangrene from developing again. This can be done with the aid of medications that help to prevent blood clots. It’s also vital that diabetic wound care is a top priority moving forward. All diabetic sores, ulcers and other wounds should be treated using the proper wound care products.
Treating a Diabetic Wound
In order to prevent diabetic wounds from becoming infected with gangrene, it’s important that the sore or ulcer is tended to immediately. To start, the area should be cleaned with running water to remove any dirt. In order to prevent infection, an antibiotic ointment should be spread across the wound. Then, a sterile bandage can be placed over the area to prevent any debris from infecting it. In order for the diabetic foot wound to heal properly, it’s important that the patient stay off of his or her feet as much as possible. When the bandage is changed, which should happen on a daily basis, the wound should be inspected for any signs of gangrene or other infection. At the first sign of infection, such as redness or another skin irritation, patients should see a health care professional.