For people with diabetes, foot ulcers can be a severe problem. Up to 25% of people with diabetes will develop these ulcers, caused by nerve damage leading to a loss of sensation in the feet.
With the proper knowledge, you can ensure they are appropriately managed and treated to protect your overall health and physical well-being.
But what exactly are diabetic foot ulcers, and how can they be prevented and treated? First, let’s discuss the details of this condition, including the causes, symptoms and treatment.
Table Of Contents
- What Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
- Early-Stage Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- The Causes Of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- Symptoms Of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- Treatment Options For Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- Expert Advice
- The Final Say
What Are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Open sores or wounds called diabetic foot ulcers to appear on the feet of those with diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) and lower extremity ischemia (loss of blood flow) brought on by peripheral artery disease are the primary contributing factors to these ulcers.
Typically around 15–25% of diabetics patient develop diabetic foot ulcers. A diabetic ulcer not appropriately treated may develop necrosis and gangrene, necessitating amputation.
The three primary forms of diabetic foot ulcers are as follows.
• Neuropathic: Peripheral neuropathy, which results in sensory loss and a lack of pain perception, causes these wounds to form.
• Ischemic: These injuries are brought on by ischemia, which happens when a bodily part doesn’t get enough blood flow.
• Neuroischemic: This term describes wounds caused by both ischemia and neuropathy.
Risk factors for diabetic foot ulcers include poor circulation, high blood sugar levels, nerve damage, hypertension and irritation or wounds on the feet. Therefore, people with diabetes need to prioritise foot care to prevent diabetic foot ulcers from occurring.
Early-Stage Diabetic Foot Ulcers
One of the initial indicators of a foot ulcer is leakage from the foot, which may cause your socks or shoes to get stained. Early signs may also include unusual swelling, itchiness, redness, and odours from one or both feet.
The black tissue (eschar) surrounding the ulcer is the most obvious indicator of a significant foot ulcer. This develops because the area surrounding the ulcer does not receive enough healthy blood flow.
The area around the ulcer may develop partial or total gangrene, the term for tissue death brought on by infections. In this situation, pungent discharge, discomfort, and numbness could happen.
Foot ulcers might not usually have visible symptoms. Occasionally, until the ulcer has grown infected, you won’t even exhibit signs of ulcers.
If you see any skin discolouration, particularly tissue that has become black, or if you experience any pain near an area that seems calloused or irritated, speak with your doctor immediately.
The Causes Of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
The typical contributors to diabetic foot ulcers are as follows.
• High blood sugar
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Poor circulation
• Skin irritation or sores on the feet
Damage to the peripheral nerves is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. These nerves connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body outside the brain and spinal cord.
These nerves can become damaged by high blood sugar levels, resulting in varied degrees of tingling, burning, or numbness in the extremities, such as the feet.
Furthermore, damage from high blood sugar levels can raise the risk of circulatory system diseases such as peripheral artery disease. The foot may be less able to recover and fight infections due to these disorders’ potential blood flow restrictions and poor circulation.
Symptoms Of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Foot ulcers can seem virtually like a wound on the foot’s flesh. However, you could not experience some symptoms depending on linked diseases, including circulation issues and nerve damage.
Common foot ulcer signs and symptoms include.
• Skin discolouration
• Dry, scaly skin
How To Prevent Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Preventing the onset of a diabetic foot ulcer is the best course of action. Regularly visiting a podiatrist is one of the advised measures. They can assess your risk of foot ulcers and put preventative measures if necessary.
You are at high risk if you have neuropathy, poor circulation, foot deformity, improper footwear, uncontrolled blood sugar, poor circulation, neuropathy, or any of the following.
To avoid and treat a diabetic foot ulcer, it’s crucial to reduce extra risk factors like smoking, consuming alcohol, having high cholesterol, and having high blood sugar. In addition, risks can be significantly decreased by donning the proper footwear, including socks.
It’s essential to develop the ability to inspect your feet to identify any issues as soon as feasible. Check your feet daily for any abnormalities, including cuts, bruises, cracks, blisters, redness, ulcers, and fissures between the toes and the sole.
Take off your shoes and socks before seeing a doctor to inspect your feet. No matter how “easy” it may seem, any concerns should be reported to your podiatrist or a medical professional as soon as possible.
Treatment Options For Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Healing foot ulcers as quickly as possible is the main objective of treatment. However, it’s important to remember that every case of a diabetic foot ulcer is unique, and treatment will vary depending on the severity of the ulcer.
It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare professional who specialises in diabetic foot care to develop an individualised treatment plan.
Treatment for diabetic foot ulcers typically involves a combination of wound care, management of underlying medical conditions, and in some cases, surgical intervention. Here are some steps that may be taken to treat diabetic foot ulcers
- Wound Care
The first step in treating a diabetic foot ulcer is to clean and dress the wound. This is typically done by a healthcare professional who specialises in wound care.
For example, the wound may be cleaned with a saline solution and then dressed with a sterile bandage or dressing. If the wound is deep or infected, the healthcare professional may need to debride (remove) the affected tissue.
Offloading the affected foot is an integral part of diabetic foot ulcer treatment. This means taking pressure off the wound to allow it to heal.
This may involve wearing special shoes, using a walking aid (such as crutches), or even using a wheelchair.
- Managing Underlying Medical Conditions
Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting many body parts. To treat diabetic foot ulcers effectively, it’s crucial to manage underlying diabetes and any other medical conditions contributing to the ulcer. This may involve managing blood sugar levels, controlling hypertension or hypotension and cholesterol, and treating infections.
Depending on the severity of the foot ulcer and any underlying medical conditions, medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms and promote healing. These may include antibiotics to treat infections, pain medications, and topical or oral medications to promote wound healing.
- Surgical Intervention
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat diabetic foot ulcers. This may involve removing infected or dead tissue or even amputating a toe or part of the foot. Surgery is typically reserved for severe cases where other treatments have been unsuccessful.
Regarding immunological function, malnutrition, glycemic management, weight loss, and weight maintenance, diet is crucial in treating diabetic foot ulcers. The following are some items to eat to prevent diabetic foot ulcers.
• Whole-grain and high-fibre carbs, such as whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, brown rice, beans, fruits with the skin on, and berries
• Protein-rich meals include skinless chicken, meats, eggs, and tofu.
• Dairy products with low fat
• Non-starchy vegetables include spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and peppers.
The Final Say
Diabetic foot ulcers can have severe consequences if left untreated. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the risk factors and look for any signs of a foot ulcer. With proper management, foot ulcers can be prevented from developing and healing successfully.
It’s always best to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect a foot ulcer. At Bansal Hospital Bhopal, we have experienced specialists treating foot ulcers with accurate methods. Do visit!
About Bansal Hospital
Bansal Hospital is a multispeciality hospital and is one of the leading, reputable and reliable healthcare providers trusted by patients and their families across the region. It has all the major departments, including cardiology, neurology, oncology, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, urology, and more. The hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and technology and has a team of highly qualified and experienced doctors and medical staff who provide round-the-clock care to the patient.
Visit our website
Diabetic foot ulcers are one of the most prevalent consequences for those with poorly controlled diabetes mellitus.
Some typical foot ulcer signs and symptoms include skin discolouration, rashes, redness, dry and scaly skin, itching, burning, swelling, and pain.
A diabetic ulcer not treated correctly may develop necrosis and gangrene, necessitating amputation.
The typical contributors to diabetic foot ulcers are high blood sugar, peripheral neuropathy, poor circulation, and skin irritation or sores on the feet.