Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Both of my parents are diabetic; as am I. My mom recently lost three toes due to gangrene. About a month ago, I started having pain in my foot, I ignored it. I thought “well it’s a stone bruise and I’ve stepped on a pebble or something and it’s caused a little pain in my foot.” The pain didn’t subside and it callused over. Then this week, it started to darken, like a blood blister.
This morning found me at the podiatrist office. My foot, had an ulcer. The doctor trimmed down the callus, and cover the ulcer with a saline wash and some gel, did an x-ray and sent me on my way. The good news is that the bone is fine, the ulcer hasn’t turned to gangrene, but it’s definitely a reality that I have to live with as a diabetic.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers affect approximately 15% of diabetic patients during their lifetime and are the cause of 84% of lower leg amputations. Diabetic skin, poor circulation and loss of sensation (Diabetic Neuropathy) are risk-factors that can increase the probability of developing an ulcer. These non-healing sores commonly occur at pressure points on the bottom of the foot such as heels, the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe.
The good news is that the ulcer can be healed, without amputation as long as the right care is taken with my feet.
Proper care means that daily I will:
Inspect your feet daily. Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Call your doctor if you notice anything.
Bathe feet in lukewarm, never hot, water. Keep your feet clean by washing them daily. Use only lukewarm water—the temperature you would use on a newborn baby.
Be gentle when bathing your feet. Wash them using a soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting and carefully dry between the toes.
Moisturize your feet but not between your toes. Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But don’t moisturize between the toes—that could encourage a fungal infection.
Cut nails carefully. Cut them straight across and file the edges. Don’t cut nails too short, as this could lead to ingrown toenails. If you have concerns about your nails, consult your doctor.
Never treat corns or calluses yourself. No “bathroom surgery” or medicated pads. Visit your doctor for appropriate treatment.
Wear clean, dry socks. Change them daily.
Consider socks made specifically for patients living with diabetes. These socks have extra cushioning, do not have elastic tops, are higher than the ankle and are made from fibers that wick moisture away from the skin.
Wear socks to bed. If your feet get cold at night, wear socks. Never use a heating pad or a hot water bottle.
Shake out your shoes and feel the inside before wearing. Remember, your feet may not be able to feel a pebble or other foreign object, so always inspect your shoes before putting them on.
Keep your feet warm and dry. Don’t let your feet get wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
Consider using an antiperspirant on the soles of your feet. This is helpful if you have excessive sweating of the feet.
Never walk barefoot. Not even at home! Always wear shoes or slippers. You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
Take care of your diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Do not smoke. Smoking restricts blood flow in your feet.
Get periodic foot exams. Seeing your foot and ankle surgeon on a regular basis can help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.