A diabetic foot ulcer is a bottom wound of the foot that occurs in patients with diabetes. At least 15% of people with diabetes suffer foot ulcers. At least 6% of foot ulcer sufferers get hospitalised due to infection or other complications – age and diabetes duration increase the risk of developing a foot ulcer and limb amputation.
Who Can Get a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?
Patients with a diabetes-related eye, heart, and kidney diseases and those who use insulin are at increased risk for developing a foot ulcer. Consuming alcohol and tobacco and being overweight also contribute to foot ulcers. A diabetic foot ulcer is also common in older people.
Why Do Diabetic Foot Ulcers Form?
Ulcers form due to poor blood circulation, foot deformities, irritation, trauma, and diabetes duration. Diabetic patients with long-term high blood glucose may develop neuropathy – an inability to sense foot pain. Nerve injury is frequently painless, so people don’t notice. Your podiatrist may test for neuropathy with a simple monofilament.
Also, vascular disease slows ulcer healing and increases infection risk. High blood sugar slows the healing and infection-fighting ability of the body.
How to Control Diabetes?
Controlling diabetes should be a priority for people suffering from the health condition. If you have diabetes, you need to improve your lifestyle by making healthy changes. It will help you avoid severe health problems associated with diabetes.
i) Start Doing Physical Exercise
Exercising is one of the best ways to keep your diabetes in check, as it is said to lower blood glucose levels. So if you are wondering how to control diabetes, start exercising daily as it has many positive effects. Exercise helps reduce excess weight and lowers blood sugar levels. It boosts insulin sensitivity, which helps regulate blood sugar.
ii) Consume Whole Grains
Adding whole grains to your meal is also an excellent option if you are wondering how to control diabetes. Whole-grain foods include whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and cereals. They can reduce diabetes risk by improving blood sugar control. Healthy precautions for people with diabetes include losing weight and avoiding fad diets. Whole grains will help people with diabetes control their blood sugar.
iii) Consume Plenty of Fibre
- Fibre can help you manage your diabetes.
- Fibre reduces your possibility of having cardiac diseases.
- Fibre helps in weight loss.
Foods that contain a high quantity of fibre are fruits, nuts, and green vegetables.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers Risk Factors
Various risk factors for the development of foot ulcers in diabetics are:
- Poor quality shoes
- Heart disease
- Poor hygiene
- Kidney disease
- Improper toenails trimming
- Alcohol intake
- Eye disease from diabetes
- Tobacco use
Diabetic Foot Ulcer Treatment
i) Preventing Infection
- Maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
- Make sure the ulcer is clean and bandaged.
- Use a wound dressing and clean the wound every day.
- Avoid being barefoot
Ulcers need to be off-loaded for optimal healing. Patients may need to wear a brace, use a wheelchair, or crutches. These devices reduce ulcer pressure and irritation, resulting in a quick recovery.
Wound care has significantly advanced in the past decade. Keeping wounds and ulcers moist and covered helps them heal more quickly and reduces the risk of infection. Doctors don’t recommend Peroxide, Whirlpools, Betadine, and soaking because they can cause complications.
iii) Medication and Dressing
Foot ulcer treatment involves applying dressings and topical drugs, from normal saline to growth factors, skin substitutes, and ulcer dressings.
The ulcerated area needs sufficient blood flow to heal. Your podiatrist may suggest noninvasive tests and refer you to a vascular surgeon for further evaluation.
iv) Managing Blood Glucose
Treating a diabetic foot ulcer relies heavily on strict blood glucose control. Working closely with a doctor will reduce complications and improve healing.
Surgical management may be necessary for non-infected foot ulcers when nonsurgical treatment has failed. Shaving or removing bones and treating deformities like bunions, hammertoes, or bony bumps are surgical treatments to relieve pressure.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer Prevention
i) Get the Right Nutrients
Diabetic patients can benefit from a diet high in legumes, fibre, and lean protein, and low in saturated fats. Copper, protein, zinc, and iron are necessary to grow new tissue. If you’re deficient in these products, the healing will be slower.
ii) Wear Shoes that Fit Properly
Poorly fitted shoes can put pressure on ulcers. So you should avoid flip-flops, sandals, and high heels with pointed or open toes. Also, wear shoes made of suede, canvas, or leather.
iii) Check Your Feet Daily
Always feel the skin on your feet and lower legs and look for signs of swelling, cuts, or bruises. Remove or rearrange items that may cause you to trip or fall.
Early treatment can heal foot ulcers. If you have a foot sore, visit a doctor immediately due to a risk of infection. Amputations are sometimes necessary when infections go untreated. While ulcers heal, stay off your feet and follow treatment. Healing diabetic foot ulcers can take weeks.
High blood sugar and constant pressure can slow ulcer healing. Diet and pressure relief are the most effective ways to heal foot ulcers. Once an ulcer heals, preventive care can stop it from returning.