Keeping close tabs on your foot health with diabetes is a vital part of your everyday health. Research shows that people with diabetes are more likely to have decreased sensation in their limbs. When paired with changes in blood flow, a person with diabetes becomes at-risk for foot wounds.
Take heart — having diabetes doesn’t mean a foot wound is inevitable, but it does mean that you’re at an elevated risk over time. The good news is that by taking early actions, you can help to prevent and identify foot ulcers to protect your limb health. Here’s how.
1. I have a new foot ulcer — now what?
Diabetes-related foot wounds do not heal overnight or by themselves. This is why upon identifying a foot wound (sore), it’s time to take action.
If you notice redness, drainage, or swelling it may be a sign of infection that needs urgent attention. Don’t wait to seek care. Be sure to reach out to your diabetes care team if you need help with blood glucose management, and if you smoke — please stop. Your future health depends upon the actions you take right now.
2. Where do I go for medical care of a foot wound?
Again, don’t delay or wait. Reach out to your healthcare provider and clearly communicate your needs. They will examine your foot wound and provide next steps for your care.
In general, you can expect a follow-up appointment with a wound care specialist. They will evaluate, treat, and prescribe footwear to offload pressure from your affected foot. This care is necessary to promote healing. Without it, your risk of diabetes-related limb amputation increases.
If you notice any signs of infection, skin color changes, or the wound is painful, seek emergent care.
3. How do I care for my foot wound until my appointment?
Handwashing is an essential part of keeping your wound as clean as possible. Get started by following handwashing steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Next, clean the wound with a non-toxic topical antiseptic (such as Puracyn®, 3M™ wound cleanser, Next Science XPERIENCE™), and cover it with a clean bandage for protection. If it’s hard for you to see or reach your feet, that’s okay. It’s common to have problems taking care of foot wounds by yourself. Try the following tips:
• Use a long-handled mirror to see the bottom of your foot or use your phone to take a picture of the area.
• Ask for help. Have someone else look at your foot and take a picture. They can also help to clean your wound and put a bandage on it until your appointment. Be sure to have them wash their hands, per above, and wear a pair of disposable medical gloves.
4. Can I wear a shoe and walk on my foot?
If the wound is on the bottom of your foot, limit the pressure you apply to it. You can do this by reducing the amount of time you stand and walk — or by using a walker, cane, or crutch until you see your healthcare provider.
Regular shoes will not help to heal a foot wound. Recommendations are to use an offloading sandal or boot. You can get started right away by purchasing Foot Defender® ahead of your appointment.
The Foot Defender® offers an early and effective solution for the treatment of diabetes-related foot wounds. By consistently reducing forces on the foot, your wound can heal faster with fewer complications. Be sure to ask your provider about the Foot Defender®, so you can get on your way to healing and back to doing the things you love.
5. Why can’t I treat my diabetes-related foot wound at home?
Self-treating a diabetes-related foot wound at home is not recommended — for any period of time. Even small wounds can be significant, leading to devastating complications, such as infection, hospitalization, and even the possibility of limb amputation.
Seek professional help to increase healing, decrease the recurrence of future wounds, and improve your health outcomes.