Basics of Diabetic Wound Care
Diabetes is a serious medical condition, one that has wide-ranging effects across your entire body. An area that doesn’t always receive as much attention with this disease as it should is the lower limbs. Foot health is important for anyone, but it takes heightened importance when diabetes is in the picture. One of the key reasons for this is diabetic wounds. As you’ll see, wound care and daily foot inspections are essential for preventing serious issues from developing.
So what exactly are diabetic wounds? Well, these are cuts, scrapes, and other such injuries that could eventually break down and become foot ulcers. Diabetes has many effects on the human body, including impairing its immune function and ability to heal damaged tissue. This is concerning because open wounds or sores that do not heal become foot ulcers. Foot ulcers pose heightened risk for infections, which the body is unable to fight.
When a diabetic wound or ulcer opens the door for infection, the major concern is the development of gangrene (tissue death). This is concerning because there is no way to reverse gangrene and amputation may be required to prevent its spread.
This is clearly a serious matter and serves to show the importance of diabetic foot care practices like daily foot inspection and preventative measures. Taking the time to carefully inspect the feet (all surfaces and between the toes!) every day is essential for catching a wound early and then receiving treatment at the earliest opportunity. Doing so can lessen the risk of having a foot ulcer develop.
A major concern with diabetic wounds is that they can begin as minor problems—even simply a tiny scratch or a blister—but then evolve into a worse situation due to a variety of factors including:
- Peripheral arterial disease – This condition that often accompanies diabetes narrows arteries, which impairs the body’s ability to deliver oxygenated blood to the site of a wound. Healthy blood flow is an essential component of healing.
- Weakened immune system – In addition to diminished circulation, diabetes also weakens the body’s immune system. This means it is not as capable of fighting off infection as it should be.
- Neuropathy – Damaged nerves, common in a majority of diabetic individuals, do not allow the brain to recognize injury as healthy ones do. With neuropathy, an injury can be sustained and not receive the care it needs.
Left untreated, a diabetic wound creates the risk for infection. With the body’s diminished ability to fight off foreign bodies, infection kills off living tissue and results in gangrene. When this happens, the odds of an amputation are dramatically increased as a measure to prevent the infection from spreading further and causing additional tissue death.
To prevent an amputation, timely care is essential. As soon as you note anything out of the ordinary in your toes, feet, or ankles, contact our office as soon as possible. In the event of a severe wound, seek immediate medical attention.
Diabetic foot care is similar in the fact that little actions on the front end can help you have smooth sailing when it comes to your foot health and safety. A minor issue unnoticed or left untreated will lead to some serious turbulence, though, so use a daily foot inspection and keep on the lookout for:
- External wounds – These are often easier to identify and include blisters, cuts, abrasions, bruises, bumps, and burns. When conducting your daily foot inspection, be sure to investigate all areas of the feet, including the bottoms and the areas between toes.
- Internal wounds – Those that have internal origins can include calluses, skin ulcers, and ingrown toenails. As is the case with external wounds, it is important to cover the entire foot when looking for these particular wounds.
As a rule of thumb, the easiest way to recognize a diabetic wound is to simply check for anything that is out of the ordinary with regards to texture, color, temperature (a common sign of infection), and structure of the feet or toes. Once you’ve identified an issue, it is time to enlist professional help.
In the event you are diabetic and observe anything out of the ordinary with your feet, contact Anderson Foot & Ankle Clinic ASAP! If you have the symptoms of an infection, you should seek immediate medical care at the nearest hospital. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with our Salt Lake City office, give us a call at (801) 269-9939 or fill out our online form and we will be glad to help.