Diabetes and Ulcers: What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

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.

  1. Inspect feet every day.
  2. Bathe feet gently in lukewarm water.
  3. Moisturize feet but not toes.
  4. Cut nails carefully. (See a podiatrist if you cannot perform correctly.)
  5. Never treat calluses or corns yourself. (That is why there are specialists!)
  6. Always wear clean, dry socks. (Consider socks made specially for diabetics.)
  7. Wear socks to bed if feet get cold, never use a heating pad.
  8. Shake out shoes and feel inside for foreign object before putting shoes on.
  9. Keep feet warm and dry.
  10. Never walk barefoot.
  11. Take care of the diabetes. (Keep blood sugar levels under control.)
  12. Do not smoke.
  13. 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.

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