Minor cuts and scrapes can easily become chronic wounds in patients with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 60 and 70 percent of patients with diabetes have neuropathy, which numbs the feet and legs and makes it difficult for patients to notice cuts and scratches immediately. That’s why it’s important for physicians to educate patients on their foot health, and how to properly manage wounds to prevent complications.
Amy Campbell, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., recently shared an updated list of tips for the best and worst practices for diabetes wound care with Diabetes Self-Management.
Advice for diabetic wound care
Campbell advised that patients with diabetes should check their feet every day to inspect for any cuts, scrapes or foot ulcers. Once these foot ulcers develop, about 80 percent of them lead to amputations, according to the Mayo Clinic. Thus, doctors should stress that patients see their podiatrist if they find any signs of concern, rather than picking at dead skin or trying to heal the cut with basic remedies. As these minor wounds are much more serious, patients risk damaging a blood vessel or infecting the wound site.
When prescribing off-loading devices, such as casts or healing sandals, doctors should stress their importance. If patients don’t follow doctor’s orders seriously, they could potentially slow the healing process or cause complications. Before patients leave the office, doctors should make sure they understand their treatment plan, including how to change wound dressings or bandages. If the wound is slow to heal, offer alternative treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy or skin substitutes, making sure patients fully understand all of the options available to them. When they understand the alternatives, patients will feel more confident about making a decision and following through with the treatment plan.
The CDC recommended questions to ask patients about their foot health, which can start the conversation about managing wounds before they occur, such as:
- When did you last get a full foot exam?
- Do you understand how diabetes is linked to foot health?
- Are you wearing comfortable shoes that fit properly?
- Do you know what to look for when checking your feet every day?
The goal is for health care providers to adequately educate patients on their foot health and how they can avoid severe wounds, especially foot ulcers. Once they’re aware of their high risk for complications, patients with diabetes will be more proactive about managing and preventing wounds.
Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.