A foot ulcer is a common complication for those with diabetes. A foot ulcer is an open wound that forms when skin tissue breaks down and exposes the layers beneath. This condition can be dangerous since it sometimes leads to serious problems such as infection, gangrene, or amputation.
Risk Factors and Common Causes
Diabetics are at high risk for developing foot ulcers because they often suffer from neuropathy or poor circulation. These conditions can make it difficult for wounds to heal, and these ulcers can cause serious problems if not treated immediately.
Diabetic foot ulcers are commonly caused by the following:
- High blood sugar levels
- Poor circulation
- Nerve damage
- Injury to the foot
Some risk factors that can increase your chances of developing a foot ulcer are:
- Being overweight
- Smoking and using tobacco products
- Drinking alcohol
- Wearing shoes that do not fit properly
- Not drying your feet after bathing
Foot Ulcer Symptoms
Foot ulcers do not always cause pain, and for those with diabetic nerve damage, a wound may not be felt until it turns into something more serious. Some signs of a foot ulcer to be aware of include:
- Visible open wound or sore
- Drainage that stains your socks
- Foul odor
- Black skin discoloration
Diagnosing Foot Ulcers
To diagnose a foot ulcer, a podiatrist will review your medical history and do a physical exam of the feet. If the area of the ulcer is showing signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or swelling, a blood test may be ordered to confirm it. In addition, imaging tests such as an X-ray may be ordered to determine if the infection has spread to the bone.
Once a diagnosis is made, your podiatrist will recommend treatment options based on your specific needs. Some wound care treatment options that may be recommended for diabetic foot ulcers include:
- Cleaning the ulcer daily with soap and water and keeping it covered with a loose, wound dressing
- Taking pressure off the foot to give the ulcer time to heal—you may need to use crutches, wear a cast, brace, or custom orthotic inside your shoe to help keep pressure and weight off of the affected area of the foot
- Using an antibiotic medication may be prescribed to help clear up the infection and prevent it from spreading
Your podiatrist may also use a procedure called debridement to remove any dead tissue and debris from the wound in order to promote healthy tissue regrowth.
Foot ulcers can be prevented and caught before they become a bigger problem by doing a daily self-check of your feet. When checking your feet, look for any abnormalities, areas that feel warm, or any injuries to your feet such as blisters, cuts, or cracks.
Proper foot care is essential for those with diabetes, and there are simple steps you can take to help prevent a foot ulcer:
- Wash your feet daily with a mild soap and warm water. Be sure to dry your feet completely, especially between your toes.
- Wear socks to protect your feet.
- Never walk barefoot to prevent injuring the bottoms of your feet.
- Moisturize your feet but not between your toes.
- Keep your toenails trimmed, and only cut them straight across.
- Do not attempt to cut any corns or calluses from your feet.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and do not rub.
- See a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem.
Are You Looking for Diabetic Foot Care in Alexandria, VA?
If you are looking for diabetic foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Foot pain is never something you just have to put up with. If your feet are aching, out of alignment, or just aren't holding up to the wear and tear of modern living, Capital Podiatry Associates can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? We offer telemedicine and valet medicine. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office at 703-560-3773.