Do you or a loved one suffer from diabetes? If so, it’s important that you follow the following tips to prevent an ulcer (i.e., an open wound or sore) from developing.
- Inspect feet every day.
- Bathe feet gently in lukewarm water.
- Moisturize feet but not toes.
- Cut nails carefully. (See a podiatrist if you cannot perform correctly.)
- Never treat calluses or corns yourself. (That is why there are specialists!)
- Always wear clean, dry socks. (Consider socks made specially for diabetics.)
- Wear socks to bed if feet get cold, never use a heating pad.
- Shake out shoes and feel inside for foreign object before putting shoes on.
- Keep feet warm and dry.
- Never walk barefoot.
- Take care of the diabetes. (Keep blood sugar levels under control.)
- Do not smoke.
- Get periodic foot exams from a podiatrist.
Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations in the United States, and approximately 14-24% of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation. In fact, foot ulcers precede 85% of diabetes-related amputations.
Keep in mind, diabetes may cause nerve damage that takes away the feeling in feet. It may also decrease blood circulation, making it more difficult to heal a wound or resist infection. Because of these problems, a foreign object in a shoe may go unnoticed and a blister or a sore may develop, possibly leading to an infection or ulcer—however, with diligent care and action, diabetics can reduce the chances of getting an ulcer and avoid a possible amputation.
Remember to execute the above steps regularly for adequate preventative care and visit a podiatrist to monitor your condition; doing so can significantly reduce the chances of lower-extremity amputation and limb loss.