Living with diabetes mellitus can be very challenging, especially if you struggle with complications associated with the disease. A common and devastating complication of diabetes can be diabetic foot ulcers. Approximately fifteen percent of people with diabetes will develop some type of foot ulcer, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Even more frightening, of those 15%, 14-24% will require an amputation of the affected foot.
A diabetic foot ulcer is a break or tear in the skin that can be caused by a number of factors. Poor glycemic control over time can lead to decreased sensation and blood flow to your lower extremity. Both of these complications are key factors in managing and treating diabetic foot ulcers. Additionally, poorly fitting shoes and foot structure play a significant role in the development on these types of ulcers.
What does a diabetic foot ulcers look like?
- Tear or break in the skin
- Open wound
- Red or black color with possible pus drainage
- Typically on the bottom of your foot
- A callus may precede or be overlying the ulcer
If you suspect you may have an ulcer, or the beginning of one make an appointment with your podiatrist as soon as possible. Your podiatrist may treat your ulcer in a variety of ways to ensure proper healing and to decrease the likelihood of infection. Treatment may include debridement to remove dead tissue, off-loading the area of pressure, specific dressing changes, and antibiotics if infection is present. These factors will help reduce the risk of infection and ultimately amputation. Your podiatrist may also take x-rays or an MRI of the affected area to determine the extent of the infection. In addition to dressings, a boot, special off-loading shoe, or cast may be utilized to treat the affected area.
The best treatment for an ulcer is prevention. It is important to talk to your podiatrist about preventative measures to help reduce your chances of developing an ulcer. If you suspect you may have an ulcer or notice any changes in your foot health please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.