Your How-To Care Tips for Diabetic Ulcers
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations in the United States. Between 14 and 24 percent of people living with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will require an amputation throughout their lifetimes. Among diabetes-related limb amputations, 84 percent are caused by a foot ulcer. As many as 15 percent of diabetics may be diagnosed with a foot ulcer at some point – an alarming statistic indeed. Fortunately, Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan is here to let you know that foot ulcer prevention and treatment is both possible and effective.
Diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds or sores that form as a result of skin breaking down from poorly managed glucose levels. They are most commonly found on the bottom of the feet, but the entire foot is vulnerable. Anyone living with diabetes is susceptible to developing foot ulcers; however, people of color and older men are at higher risk and should take extra precautions. The cornerstone to preventing this complication when living with diabetes is to be proactive, not reactive. Discover how to care for your feet with Advanced Varicose Veins of Manhattan.
What Causes Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers can be caused by many complications associated with diabetes. However, the two main culprits are peripheral neuropathy and microangiopathy. The combination of these two side effects creates the perfect storm for foot ulceration.
According to the Mayo Clinic, over half of all people living with diabetes will develop some type of neuropathy, or nerve damage, if their blood sugar levels are poorly managed over time. Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves often in the hands, legs, and feet. These damaged nerves can cause an altered feeling or complete lack of feeling in feet or manifest as a painful burning, or tingling sensation. With peripheral neuropathy, often symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers won’t be noticeable right away. Injuries to the foot, cuts, or the pain of tight-fitting shoes can easily go unaddressed if your nerves aren’t signaling to your body that you are in pain.
Microangiopathy is a disease that affects small blood vessels within your body and is also a common complication of mismanaged diabetes. Diabetes causes the small vessels in your body to narrow and harden— often impeding blood circulation to the feet. The restricted blood flow makes it difficult for your feet to heal from wounds and effectively fight off infection.
Other Risk Factors Include:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Ill-fitting or poor quality shoes
- Poor foot hygiene
- Improper toenail trimming
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol consumption
- High glucose levels
Preventing Diabetic Foot Ulcers
The management of diabetic foot ulcers centers primarily around preventing them. As mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to be proactive in preventing these challenging sores than it is to heal them. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple care and prevention tips you can incorporate into your day-to-day life that effectively reduces your risk of ulcers, infections, and amputations.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent foot ulceration, along with other serious side effects of diabetes, is to keep your glucose levels in a range that is stable for you. Regulated blood sugar levels can reduce complications associated with peripheral neuropathy and blood circulation issues, two main components in foot ulceration. The Mayo Clinic advises that a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can keep your nerves healthy and help your body fight off infection.
Another crucial step in prevention is taking proper care of your feet, and the sooner you start, the better. The ADA recommends inspecting your feet daily for new injuries, such as cuts, blisters or swelling— especially if you have a history of neuropathy or poor circulation. Proper foot hygiene includes washing and drying your feet thoroughly on a daily basis, keeping toenails short, and maintaining moisturized skin on your feet to prevent cracks or breaks in the tissue. Be sure you have proper-fitting, comfortable shoes, and socks, and limit the time you spend barefoot to avoid new foot irritations.
The time you spend both on and off your feet is also critical. For example, off-loading is a useful preventative method that refers to any process that takes the pressure off your foot. Off-loading can be as simple as elevating your legs and feet when you are sitting. It may also involve the use of specially designed diabetic shoes, casts, or walkers. However, it is good to spend some quality time on your feet too to keep the blood flowing to smaller blood vessels. Daily exercise such as walking or running, sitting with your legs uncrossed, and quitting smoking are all great ways to improve blood circulation to your toes.
If you know or suspect you have a foot ulcer, be sure to immediately seek treatment from a qualified healthcare provider such as Dr. Lev to avoid more severe complications. According to DermNet NZ, dead tissue on the surface should be removed and the wound needs to be cleaned with an antiseptic. Wound dressings can also be applied to the injury to ensure a moist environment that promotes healing. The stage of your ulcer will determine the treatment you receive, but Dr. Lev highly recommends the Oasis treatment for healing diabetic foot ulcers and open wounds as a more effective alternative to over-the-counter medications and bandages!
The Oasis Treatment
The Oasis treatment essentially aims to provide scaffolding to open wounds and ulcers while also inducing healing in your body faster than many traditional approaches to foot ulcers. A matrix composed of collagen and natural tissue is placed over the ulcer, acting as a bandage to protect from the elements and further infection while supplementing the body’s healing process to speed up recovery. It’s both reliable and effective and has become an industry standard for treating open wounds.
While diabetic foot ulcers can lead to serious complications, you can effectively prevent and treat them with the proper foot care and by seeking medical attention as soon as your ulcer is noticed. Contact Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan today at 347-658-5430 to learn more about our how-to-care tips or effective and reliable treatments like the Oasis!