There are many healthy habits and lifestyle choices that can help manage or prevent diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs).
What are Diabetic Foot Ulcers
A diabetic foot ulcer refers to an open sore or wound that develops on the foot of a person with diabetes, often as a result of poor circulation, nerve damage (neuropathy), foot trauma or injury, and impaired wound healing. These ulcers typically occur on the bottom of the foot, but they can appear on other areas and lower limbs.
What happens if DFUs are left untreated?
If left untreated, diabetic foot ulcers can become infected, leading to further complications, including cellulitis (infection of the skin and underlying tissues), osteomyelitis (bone infection), and, in severe cases, gangrene (tissue death). Infection can spread to other parts of the body and may even result in the need for amputation.
What are some ways to maintain or prevent DFUs?
Managing or preventing diabetic foot ulcers involves adopting several healthy lifestyle habits. It is crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop an individualized plan for managing and preventing diabetic foot ulcers based on your specific needs and medical history. Here are some recommendations:
- Proper foot care: If you have diabetes or have had DFUs in the past, make it a daily habit of inspecting your feet for any cuts, sores, blisters, or changes in color or temperature. Clean your feet regularly with mild soap and lukewarm water, and gently dry them, especially between the toes. Having a general awareness of what is normal for your feet will make it more likely to catch anything out of the ordinary.
- Regular foot examinations: Schedule regular foot examinations with a healthcare professional who can assess your foot health and identify any potential issues or risk factors. If you develop a diabetic foot ulcer, Tides Medical offers a variety of amniotic skin grafts for wounds that may be accessible through your healthcare provider. If you or your healthcare provider have any questions about this process, products, or the benefits of working with Tides tissue grafts, contact Tides Medical for information.
- Wear proper footwear: Avoid going barefoot. This minimizes cuts, sores, blisters, or injuries that could develop into Diabetic Foot Ulcers. Choose shoes that fit well and provide adequate support and cushioning. It is a good idea to avoid high heels, open-toed shoes, or shoes that pinch or rub against your feet. Consider diabetic shoes or custom orthotics, if necessary.
- Diabetic socks: Proper socks for hot summer months are just as important as those for colder months. Locked in moisture from wet socks may lead to an environment that makes DFUs more likely to occur. Opt for seamless, moisture-wicking socks specifically designed for individuals with diabetes. These socks can help prevent friction and reduce the risk of developing ulcers.
- Blood sugar management: Maintain your blood sugar levels within the target range recommended by your healthcare provider. Consistently monitor your blood sugar levels and take prescribed medications as directed. Diabetes management is a necessary lifestyle habit for those with diabetes and contributes to managing DFUs.
- Balanced diet: Follow a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages. Consult a registered dietitian for personalized dietary advice.
- Regular physical activity: Engage in regular physical activity, as recommended by your healthcare provider. Regular exercise can help improve blood circulation, manage weight, and control blood sugar levels.
- Smoking cessation: Quit smoking if you are a smoker. Smoking impairs blood circulation and increases the risk of complications, including foot ulcers.
- Wound care: If you notice any cuts, blisters, or sores on your feet, seek prompt medical attention. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for wound care, which may involve cleaning, dressing changes, and monitoring for signs of infection.
- Education and self-care: Stay informed about diabetes self-care and foot health. Attend diabetes education programs and consult your healthcare team for guidance on managing your condition effectively.
Managing diabetes properly, inspecting the feet regularly, wearing appropriate footwear, and seeking medical attention for foot problems is essential in the effort of preventing or managing diabetic foot ulcers. If a diabetic foot ulcer is detected, it requires immediate medical care to prevent further complications and promote healing. A multidisciplinary approach involving healthcare professionals such as podiatrists, wound care specialists, and endocrinologists is often necessary to manage and treat these ulcers effectively. Continue to advance your education on the topic and take preventive measures like the recommendations mentioned in this post.