In addition to foot ulcers, if you have diabetes, your risk of amputation is 28 times higher than someone without the condition. Consequently, successfully avoiding foot ulcers or ensuring prompt healing can help you avoid the problem.
Preventing Foot Ulcers
Staving off a foot ulcer is the most beneficial option. To ward them off, follow these steps:
- Manage blood sugar: Before eating keep your blood sugar at 80-130 mg/dL before meals and under 180 mg/dL after. A healthy blood sugar level encourages faster healing.
- Pamper your feet: Conduct daily foot inspections, using a mirror to see the bottoms of your feet, if necessary. Look for cracks, cuts, blisters, and other signs of wounds. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly, especially between your toes, and apply talcum powder to deter blisters.
- Pick the right shoes: Select shoes that are tight enough to keep fabric from rubbing your skin, causing an ulcer. But, choose ones loose enough to not crowd your toes and be comfortable. If you need them, choose orthopedic shoes that can be custom fitted to the size, shape, and contours of your feet.
- Don’t light up: Don’t smoke. It reduces your circulation, making your blood flow problems worse. It can also decrease the feeling in your feet.
- See your doctor: Have a foot exam at least once a year to inspect your feet for circulatory issues, early signs of nerve damage, or other foot problems.
Treating Foot Ulcers
If you do develop a foot ulcer, there are therapeutic options available. Discuss the best tactic with your doctor.
- Debridement: This is the surgical removal of unhealthy tissue and bacteria from the wound in order to promote healing.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): HBOT works by delivering 100% pure oxygen to a patient through increased atmospheric pressure in a large, clear, acrylic chamber. This increased oxygen absorption enhances the body’s ability to heal.
- Living Cellular Skin Substitute: This therapy consists of the application of products made of living cells and proteins that can, over time, stimulate wound healing.
Within 4 weeks, if you haven’t healed — or if you have developed a bone infection — consult your doctor.
Be aware, foot ulcers can start small with a callus or a blister. Be sure the keep your weight off the affected foot as much as possible to avoid any worsening of your ulcer. Be vigilant. The soft tissue of your foot is susceptible to infection, so any problems can spread to muscle and bone quickly. If you notice any changes or problems, contact your doctor. Delayed treatment can slow down healing and even lead to amputation.
Contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America for more information on preventing and treating foot ulcers.