Living with diabetes puts you at a significantly higher risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers, or slow-healing sores on your foot. This is because diabetes can cause decreased circulation and sensation in your feet. Given that a foot ulcer can take several weeks or months to heal, it’s essential to know what to look out for and how to take care of your feet.
With professional care and attention, it’s possible to resolve diabetic foot ulcers. Without prompt medical care, however, a lingering foot sore can develop complications that could eventually lead to limb amputation.
As diabetic foot care experts who specialize in diabetic limb salvage, Dr. Hatim Burhani, Dr. Siraj Panchbhaiya, and our team at Eastside Podiatry PLLC, in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, provide specialized care for all of your diabetic foot concerns.
Up to 15% of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer. Here’s what you should know about these problematic sores and how to care for them.
What causes diabetic foot ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers are the product of a complication known as peripheral neuropathy, a chronic condition that causes the nerves in your feet to die off, leading to loss of sensation. As a result, you might not notice a small cut or scrape on your foot until it becomes infected and develops into an ulcer.
An ulcer is an open wound that doesn’t heal quickly or keeps recurring. If your ulcer becomes infected, it can become so severe that you need an amputation.
Foot ulcer warning signs
A foot ulcer is an open wound. It could be either yellow, pink, or red. In some cases, it could be black; however, the tissue cells may have died if your ulcer is black. This is known as gangrene and is typically the end stage of an ulcer, which often leads to amputation.
Knowing what to look for with a diabetic foot ulcer is essential to prevent it from developing gangrene. The following are typical warning signs of an ulcer:
- An open wound on your foot
- Pus coming from your foot wound
- An odor coming from your foot wound
- A fever and/or chills
- Increased pain in your foot
- Redness or swelling around your foot
Who’s at risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer?
Anyone with diabetes can get a foot ulcer. However, older people with the condition are more susceptible to developing this dangerous complication. The longer you live with diabetes, the more at risk you are of getting a foot ulcer.
Other people with diabetes who have a higher risk of developing foot ulcers include:
- People of Native American, Hispanic, and Black heritage
- People who are obese
- People with diabetes-related kidney disease
- People who use tobacco or drink alcohol
- People with type 2 diabetes who use insulin
How are diabetic foot ulcers treated?
Treating diabetic foot ulcers typically involves topical care and a course of antibiotics if it has been infected. With severe infections, the infected tissue might need to be removed through a process called wound debridement.
Foot ulcers can lead to complications that can only be resolved through limb amputation. Getting immediate expert treatment helps minimize your risk of wound infection and prevent the need for amputation.
If you have diabetes and notice any sores or ulcers in your feet, get in touch with our team as soon as possible to prevent infection. As diabetic limb salvage specialists, we can help you prevent infection and minimize your risk of complications or amputation.