Self-Care an Important Part of Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Diabetes patients should take an active role in helping to prevent foot ulcers.
As many as 3.5 million people in the U.S. have developed a diabetic foot ulcer, according to the New England Journal of Medicine’s recent study, “Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Their Recurrence.” Meanwhile, the 2011 St. George’s Vascular Institute study “Lower extremity amputations–a review of global variability in incidence” stated that between 5 percent and 24 percent of people with a history of foot ulceration will be required to undergo limb amputation within 6-18 months.
Developing a foot ulcer can have serious implications for a patient suffering from diabetes. It can impact their physical health, mobility and overall quality of life. These factors make early treatment of a foot ulcer an important part of the recovery process.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), a diabetic foot ulcer is anopen wound that is usually located on the bottom of the patient’s foot. The ulcers can form as the result of a poor blood circulation (a common characteristic of diabetes), nerve damage that causes a loss of feeling, and irritation or trauma that creates a wound.
Because of the loss of feeling, a patient may not be aware of the presence of a wound on the foot. Over time, the wound can become infected and the condition can worsen.
Diabetic patients can lessen their chances of developing a foot ulcer by getting regular examinations from a clinician and developing good health habits: maintain a healthy diet, one that helps keep their weight and blood glucose levels low. They should also refrain from smoking and excessive drinking.
Patients can assist in their own care by monitoring the condition of their feet and noting any wounds or cuts that develop. Even a small blister can eventually become a foot ulcer if left untreated. The APMA recommends a few simple steps to help reduce your chances of developing a diabetic foot ulcer.
- Examine your feet regularly for any small injuries or sore spots that could develop into ulcers.
- If you find a wound, protect it by washing it well with clean water and a saline solution.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment to keep the wound moist, helping it to heal faster.
- Wrap the area with a bandage and change the bandage every two days.
- Cover your foot with a sock. The Diabetic Council recommends special diabetic socks that reduce pressure on the foot, prevents blistering and helps eliminate moisture.
- Try not to apply excessive pressure to the wound.
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