Caring for diabetic foot ulcers improperly can lead to increased risk for complications like infections.
Preventing and caring for diabetic foot ulcers is a top priority for anyone with diabetes. Approximately 15-25% of diabetics will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. If left untreated, diabetic foot ulcers can quickly become infected, require advanced wound care treatment, and may lead to amputation or an increased risk of serious health problems. Without the right preventative care plan, diabetic foot ulcers can cost a few thousand dollars to treat for the early stages to over $100,000 for infection care and amputation. Fortunately, this can all be prevented by caring for diabetic foot ulcers before they become infected and costly.
Diabetic Foot Care
As it is with most medical conditions, prevention is usually the best medicine. Washing your feet daily with soapy water and applying a moisturizing lotion are essential steps in optimal foot health. Keeping your skin strong and healthy can help protect against injury and resist cracking and blisters that can lead to diabetic foot ulcers. Properly fitted shoes and padded socks should always be worn to prevent rubbing and blisters. Toenails must also be cleaned and trimmed regularly to avoid dirt buildup.
For anyone with diabetes, it is important to stay vigilant when caring for your lower extremities. Diabetics are prone to developing peripheral arterial disease, which causes poor circulation throughout your toes and feet. As a result, a loss of feeling in the feet makes is difficult for you to know when you have an injury or ulcer. This is why a daily visual inspection is a must for preventing uncontrollable foot infections.
Early Foot Ulcers
If you do find a scratch, cut, bruise, or ulcer on your foot, it needs to be cared for immediately and never ignored. Minor wounds should be gently cleaned, treated with a topical antiseptic, and bandaged properly with the right wound care products to promote wound healing. Typical home remedies, such as hot water soaking, heating pads, or harsh astringents will only make the wound worse and inhibit healing. If a minor foot wound does not improve within one to two days, consult with your doctor to check for signs of infection.
Advanced Foot Ulcers
When preventative care and daily inspection measures are not being followed, a diabetic foot ulcer may go unnoticed until after it has advanced to a level of infection. Deep wounds, discoloration, or abscesses may be present. According to the Wagner ulcer classification system, the severity of a diabetic foot ulcer is defined as:
- Grade 0: No ulcer present.
- Grade 1: Superficial ulcer.
- Grade 2: Deep ulcer that extends through the dermis.
- Grade 3: Deep ulcer with abscess, bone infection, or joint sepsis.
- Grade 4: Gangrene of the toes or heel.
- Grade 5: Gangrene of the entire foot.
When caring for diabetic foot ulcers, the earlier the wound is identified, the easier it is to treat. Avoiding a classification beyond Grade 1 is essential to preventing rapid and uncontrollable infections.
Once a foot ulcer becomes infected, it can be difficult to treat, but amputation can be avoided. Your doctor can assess the wound, remove any necrotic tissue, treat the infection, dress the wound with a balanced moist healing environment, and may require pressure reduction through offloading. Caring for diabetic foot ulcers is serious business, and failure to follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan will only lead to complications. A diabetic foot ulcer precedes nearly 85% of all diabetic amputations, and there is a 50% mortality rate within five years of amputation.
Avoid the risk of uncontrollable infections by preventing and caring for diabetic foot ulcers with proper foot maintenance, daily inspection, and early wound care. For the best diabetic wound care supplies, review what’s available from Advanced Tissue and talk to your doctor about the products you need for your wound care journey.