If you have diabetes, there’s no such thing as a minor wound to the foot, even a small foot sore can turn into an ulcer that, if not properly treated, can lead to amputation. The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for those who don’t have the disease.
At North Platte Foot Clinic we want you to live well with type 2 diabetes. In doing so, you need to learn ways to take care of your diabetes every day. This is some information on safe and effective remedies for diabetes care at home. These remedies allow you to manage your diabetes just like you manage other parts of your life such as your work, household chores, and family budget. In taking the appropriate steps for diabetes care at home, you can feel a sense of control about your illness.
Most diabetic amputations could easily be prevented with good foot care and wound treatment. You can’t always prevent an ulcer, but you can almost always prevent an amputation. Here’s what you need to know about preventing foot sores and treating them in order to avoid an amputation.
Diabetes and Wounds: Prevention Matters
People with diabetes are at increased risk for complications from wound healing for several reasons. First, diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slower to heal than in people who do not have the disease. Second, many people with diabetes also have neuropathy — reduced sensation in their hands or feet — which means they don’t necessarily notice an injury right away.
Why are feet at more risk for diabetes wounds? Because feet just take more of a beating in our daily lives than hands do, and we don’t look at them as often, so it’s harder to spot a wound.
5 Tips for Preventing Foot Sores
The best way to prevent wound complications is to prevent the wound in the first place. You do that by taking good care of your feet. Top ways to keep your feet in good health include:
- Check your feet every single day, and wash them with mild soap and water. (Be sure to check the water temperature first.) Make it part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.
- Dry your feet well. Moisture retained between the toes can cause skin breakdowns.
- Be cautious in nail salons. Though some specialists recommend avoiding salons and having your nails cut only by a podiatrist, we simply urge caution.
- Keep your feet from drying and cracking with regular applications of foot cream. You don’t need a special cream — any moisturizer available at your drugstore, like Aquaphor, Cetaphil, and Eucerin, will work.Use an antifungal cream if you have evidence of athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) or other fungal infection. Athlete’s foot can make the skin crack and peel, which increases your risk for an infection. Be on the lookout for fungal nail infections, too (nails will look and feel harder, darker, and thicker). If you have any questions about treatment and care call us.
- Avoid fancy footwear. This means no tight socks and, above all, no tight, pointy shoes with high heels.
Diabetes and Wounds: Getting Timely Treatment
What if, despite your best efforts, you develop a foot sore? Any break in the skin of the foot is an important medical issue. There’s no such thing as just a little cut.
- Put a triple antibiotic cream on the foot sore immediately
- Cover the wound with a light gauze and keep pressure off the area
- Make an appointment a North Platte Foot Clinic within seven days at most
And calluses, which are precursors to foot ulcers in many diabetic patients, should be considered — and treated — just as seriously. Diabetic foot wounds can develop complications rapidly. Early intervention is always better.
When you come to North Platte Foot Clinic about your foot sore, we may do several things:
- Test that you have a good blood circulation to the area. This is called an ankle brachial index.
If the ankle brachial index is 0.9 or less, you should see a vascular surgeon to determine if intervention is necessary. An ankle brachial index of 0.9 or below could point to a 50% occlusion of a major artery.
- Cleaning a foot sore is a process known as debridement. The doctor can culture the area to check the type of bacteria that may be present.
Looks can be extremely deceiving in a person who has a foot ulcer.
- Offload your foot. This means putting it in a special custom-designed support boot — such as the Cam Walker or Air Calf Boot. This may be bulky, but it’s absolutely necessary until you heal.