Diabetics must always do what they can to avoid a diabetic foot ulcer. These types of wounds happen to many diabetics. Without proper and immediate treatment, they can become larger problems. Diabetic foot ulcers can happen. Here is how you can help prevent them and what you should do if one develops.
Where Diabetic Foot Ulcers Come From
Ulcers can form for several reasons. Mainly, poor circulation or a lack of feeling in your foot can turn into a diabetic foot ulcer.
Neuropathy can also lead to foot ulcers. The longer you have diabetes, the larger the chance of neuropathy developing. Vascular diseases and other issues that affect your body's ability to heal itself also increase the possibility of a diabetic foot ulcer.
Some people have an increased likelihood of developing a foot ulcer. Those people include:
- African Americans
- Native Americans
- The elderly
- The overweight
A diabetic foot ulcer can lead to the need for amputation. If the ulcer becomes infected, it can leave you hospitalized.
What You Can Do to Help Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers
A diabetic foot ulcer isn't a foregone conclusion. You should see a podiatrist regularly to discuss what you can do to keep a foot ulcer at bay. Generally, by eliminating many of the risk factors, you can significantly decrease the possibility of a diabetic foot ulcer forming. For example, you can:
- Make sure you take care of your feet
- Quit alcohol and tobacco products
- Wear appropriate, comfortable shoes and socks
- Lower your intake of cholesterol
- Inspect your feet daily
- Treat any wound, sore, or infection immediately
- Lower your blood sugar
- Reduce friction and pressure on your feet
You can do a lot to aid prevention. Many of the things you do will come from dealing with diabetes itself. You won't have to make too many large changes to also work on preventing diabetic foot ulcers.
What to Do if a Diabetic Food Ulcer Develops
If you develop an open wound on your foot, you should visit a podiatrist immediately. A podiatrist who specializes in wound care can help you treat the ulcer to prevent infection and the possibility of amputation. The faster you get care, the better.
In a situation where you absolutely cannot see your doctor for a while, here are a few things to do:
- Keep pressure off the foot
- Keep managing your diabetes as normal
- Keep the ulcer every day
- Keep the ulcer bandaged between cleaning
- Avoid walking on the foot as much as possible; don't walk barefoot
No matter what, make sure you get to your podiatrist as soon as possible. If you experience fever, chills, or faintness, get to the emergency room or call 911.
Treating the wound yourself is okay for a short amount of time, but it's not something you should do for long without professional guidance. A wound care specialist can help develop a personalized treatment plan for you.