Diabetic foot ulcers are open sores or wounds that commonly occur on the bottom of the foot. They are a serious complication of diabetes that can lead to infection, amputation, and even death.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers: What You Need to Know
Anyone with diabetes can develop a foot ulcer, but people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk. This is because high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels in the feet, making it difficult to feel pain or detect injuries.
Diabetic ulcers on feet often start as small cuts or scrapes that become infected. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the bone and other tissues. This can lead to serious complications, such as amputation.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent diabetic foot ulcers, including:
- Take good care of your feet - This includes washing your feet daily, inspecting your feet for cuts, blisters, and redness, and wearing diabetic shoes that fit properly.
- See your doctor regularly for foot exams - Your doctor can look for early signs of problems and help you develop a plan to prevent foot ulcers.
- Control your blood sugar levels - This is the most important thing you can do to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. High blood sugar levels damage nerves and blood vessels in the feet, making it difficult to feel pain or detect injuries.
- Cleaning and dressing the ulcer - This is usually done by a doctor or nurse.
- Medications - Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infection. Pain medications may also be needed.
- Wound care - In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove dead tissue or close the ulcer.
- With proper treatment, most diabetic foot ulcers can heal. However, it is important to take steps to prevent further ulcers. This includes controlling your blood sugar levels, taking good care of your feet, and seeing your doctor regularly for foot exams.
- Wash your feet daily with warm, soapy water.
- Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Apply a moisturizer to your feet but avoid getting it between your toes.
- Trim your toenails straight across and file any sharp edges.
- Wear diabetic shoes that fit properly and have good arch support.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Inspect your feet daily for any cuts, blisters, or redness.
- See your doctor for regular foot exams.
Here is some additional information about diabetic foot ulcers:
- Diabetic ulcers on feet are the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the United States.
- Every year, more than 250,000 people with diabetes are hospitalized for diabetic foot ulcers.
- The cost of treating diabetic foot ulcers is estimated to be over $10 billion per year.
If you have any concerns about your feet, be sure to talk to your doctor.