• Cork Medical

Diabetic Foot Ulcer Wound Care


Article originally featured on Omega Underground

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is what Doctors commonly refer to as Diabetes. It is a metabolic disease that impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugars. The disability is due to insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving sugar from the blood into the cells for storage. It is either not being released in enough body measures or does not effectively use the insulin it produces. This condition is known as hyperglycemia. After a patient has been suffering over a long period from Diabetes, the high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.


Types of Diabetes

Experts further classify diabetes mellitus into three main types. Although similar to each other, they tend to occur in different circumstances:


Type 1 Diabetes

Despite its ability to affect people at any age, it mostly occurs in children and young adults. Here, the body produces very little or no insulin. It results from an autoimmune reaction where the body’s immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. It means that one will need a daily insulin dose to maintain blood glucose levels under control. The exact causes of Diabetes type 1 are unknown, but the reason lies in genetics. It means that having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Diagnosing this type of Diabetes can be difficult hence requiring additional tests for confirmation. Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes include Abnormal thirst and dryness of the mouth, a sudden loss of weight, frequent urination, and lack of energy.


Type 2 Diabetes

It is the most common type of Diabetes as it accounts for approximately 90% of the world’s total diabetes cases. Adults more commonly experience it. With diabetes type 2, the body does not make fair use of the insulin that it produces. The disease is treatable with a healthy lifestyle, which includes increased physical activity and a healthy diet. However, patients with type 2 diabetes will require oral drugs or insulin injections to keep their blood glucose levels under control. In some instances, both oral medicines and insulin are administered to patients altogether for more effective treatment. Some of the common symptoms associated with Diabetes Type 2 include excessive thirst and dryness of the mouth, Frequent urination, extreme tiredness even after light activities, the slow healing of wounds, recurrent infections in the skin, blurred vision, and numbness in the limbs.


Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes, abbreviated as GDM, is a type of Diabetes that is associated with high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It is associated with complications occurring to both mother and child during the pregnancy period. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy. In some cases, affected women and their children are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in their lives. During pregnancy, high sugar levels may cause harm to both the mother and the child. Some of the risks that accompany increased blood sugar levels include high blood pressure, preeclampsia, miscarriage or stillbirths, and even congenital disabilities on the baby. It is essential to visit the appropriate health care experts for guidance and instructions on how to go about with the disease.


What is a Diabetic foot ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open wound in some patients with Diabetes, and the ulcer appears on the foot’s bottom part. Factors such as low blood circulation in the foot, foot deformities, foot becoming numb, and foot irritations may eventually lead to foot ulcer formation. Diabetes is currently the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the world. Patients who have been suffering from Diabetes for many years can develop neuropathy. In this condition, one experiences a reduced or complete lack of ability to feel pain in the feet. It is usually due to nerve damage caused by elevated blood glucose levels over time. Averagely, 20% of the patients with Diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require amputation. However, research has proven that the prevention of foot ulcer development is possible. Vascular disease can also complicate a foot ulcer. Complication from the illness results from reducing the body’s ability to heal and increase an infection’s risk. The elevations in blood glucose levels can reduce the body’s ability to fight a potential infection and slow down the healing process.


Who is Likely to Get a Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

Although not every diabetic patient is likely to get a diabetic foot ulcer, the following undermining conditions put a patient in a high-risk position of acquiring the ulcer:

  • People who inject themselves with insulin are at higher risk of developing a foot ulcer.

  • Patients with diabetes-related kidney, eye, and heart disease.

  • Overweight patients who use alcohol and tobacco substances are likely to develop foot ulcers.

Symptoms of a Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Pain is not a common symptom for one who has developed a diabetic foot ulcer. It is because of the possibility of losing the ability to feel pain in the foot. The first symptom to be noticed on the foot is some drainage prints on the socks. On the appearance of drainage prints on the forming wound’s socks, redness and swelling shall accompany the ulceration. In extreme cases, the foot ulcer may have an odor present. On noticing any of the above symptoms, patients should visit their podiatrist for treatment. It shall significantly reduce the risk for infection and amputation.


How to Care for a Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Diabetic foot ulcer wound care is essential for the faster healing of the foot ulcer. It is necessary to keep the chances of infections in the foot ulcer low. There are several factors to be considered for the appropriate care and treatment of a diabetic foot ulcer:

  • To prevent the foot ulcer from infection.

  • Off-loading the pressure from the ulcer area

  • Debridement is simply the removal of the dead skin and tissue

  • To ensure proper dressing and medication is applied to the foot ulcer

  • The management of glucose levels and other health problems.


Although not all ulcers are infected, it is vital to keep an ulcer from being infected. However, when acquired, the infection can be treatable by administering antibiotics, wound care, and even hospitalization whenever necessary. For one to keep an ulcer from being infected, it is essential to:

  • Maintain the blood glucose levels under tight control

  • Always keep the ulcer clean and bandaged. The patient should ensure that the bandaging is worn correctly on the ulcer to avoid germs entering it.

  • Always avoid walking barefoot.


Preventive Measures of a Diabetic Foot Ulcer

As it is known, prevention is the best cure. The same applies to diabetic foot ulcers. If risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, high cholesterol intake, and elevated blood glucose are reduced by the patient, preventing acquiring a diabetic foot ulcer is likely to be successful. Wearing the appropriate shoe size and socks of skin-friendly fabrics will go a long way in reducing the risks of having a diabetic foot ulcer. Regularly inspect the feet every day, especially on the soles and between the toes. No matter how simple they may seem, should any problem be discovered by the patient, it should be immediately reported to the podiatrist as soon as possible.


The key in successfully preventing diabetic foot ulcers includes:

  • Maintaining of Low blood sugar levels in the body

  • Appropriate debridement of wounds

  • Appropriate treatment of any infection

  • Reducing friction and pressure on the foot

  • Restoring adequate blood flow on the foot