Tips for Preventing and Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Caring for your feet is important to preventing foot ulcers.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that 15 percent of all diabetic patients eventually develop foot ulcers. With the number of diabetics expected to increase to over 360 million by 2030 (per a report in Data Points), there could be a significant uptick in foot ulcer cases. Though these are seemingly innocuous injuries, ulcers can lead to amputation or death if left untreated, according to Everyday Health. If you’re at risk for ulcers, or have already developed one or more, here are a few helpful tips for managing them:
1. Prevention is possible
Just like many other ailments, it’s possible prevent ulcers in the first place. All it takes is a few daily measures and some basic lifestyle changes. The most important step is to thoroughly check your feet each morning, looking out for cuts, blisters and other pre-wound symptoms. As an extension of this, you should have your feet checked out by a doctor at least once a year, if not more. Even the right pair of shoes can help, as improper footwear can impede your circulation and cause ulcers to form.
2. Cleanliness is crucial
Daily hygiene is just as important as checking your feet for pre-wound formations. The Foot & Ankle Associates, Inc., explained, clean, dry feet are less susceptible to injury or harmful bacteria. However, it’s important to clean your feet in a certain way, and to avoid chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, iodine and astringents, which can harm or irritate your foot skin. Same goes for foot soaks and heating pads. Diabetes Self-Management suggested cleaning with tepid or warm water and basic hand soap.
3. Always take action
For years, many people believed the best way to treat a foot ulcer was to leave it exposed to open air. However, the California Podiatric Medical Association pointed out that this approach can actually worsen the state of ulcers. Instead, you want to keep the ulcer properly moisturized and fully covered. Fortunately, there are a number of beneficial dressing options for diabetics to choose from. Products like alginates and hydrocolloid dressings not only jumpstart the wound healing process, but they also regulate moisture levels and assist with debridement.
4. Control your blood glucose
Not every preventative or treatment option focuses solely on the foot. As Healthline explained, people must continue to maintain proper blood glucose levels. If your levels are too high, then the ulcer cannot heal effectively. Though diabetics have ongoing issues with managing blood sugar, there are several easy ways to give yourself more control, according to Diabetic Living magazine. These include drinking water frequently and eating several smaller meals throughout the day, and getting a good’s night rest.