November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. Diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other problems if it is not controlled.
One serious complication with diabetes is foot ulcers. Those with diabetes commonly develop nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy which leaves them unable to feel their feet properly. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to poor circulation and an impaired immune system. These factors all combine to make it difficult for wounds, like foot ulcers, to heal.
“Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation,” said Dr. Leon Reber, DPM, a foot and ankle physician in St. George. “About 85% of non-traumatic amputations begin with a diabetic foot ulcer. Many of those amputations could have been prevented with proper foot care. Educating those with diabetes and pre-diabetes is very important.”
The leading cause of foot ulcers is neuropathy, or nerve damage. Neuropathy leaves people unable to feel their feet. According to Reber, “feeling pain is a gift when it comes to feet.” Any unnoticed rubbing, blistering, or injury to the foot may become infected and put the foot at risk for more serious complications.
Reber gave five great suggestions on how to properly care for feet, especially the feet of those with diabetes and neuropathy.
- Keep blood sugar levels and diabetes under control. Exercise and walk regularly, eat healthily, and stop smoking. “Smoking can lead to a decrease in circulation to the feet,” Reber said. “Decreased circulation makes wounds to the feet harder to heal.”
- Inspect both feet every day. “Seeing the bottom of your feet may be difficult, so use a mirror or enlist the help of a friend or spouse,” said Reber. “Any visibly red, blistered, burned, swollen, or injured areas should be seen promptly by a medical professional.”
- Wear well-fitting shoes and socks and avoid going barefoot. “Ill-fitting shoes along with other feet issues such as hammer toes, bunions, and heel spurs can lead to blisters that can become infected,” Reber said. “When you can’t feel pain in your feet, don’t walk barefoot outside or test bath water temperatures with your foot to avoid burns and or frostbite.”
- Wash feet with soap and water and moisturize every day. “Be sure to dry between your toes really well,” said Reber. “Moisture between the toes can cause the skin to break down allowing bacteria to enter. Likewise, when moisturizing feet to prevent cracks or callouses, try not to get lotion and added moisture between the toes.”
- Be careful when trimming toenails. “Accidentally cutting the skin while clipping toenails or developing an ingrown toenail can be disastrous for those who have neuropathy,” Reber said. “Consider having nails trimmed regularly by a doctor or other professional.”
If a wound or ulcer does occur, seek medical attention. A podiatrist, or foot doctor, can help the wound heal, prevent infection, or treat infection if necessary. Trimming away unhealthy skin, offloading — or taking pressure off the wound — are best left to professionals.
“If you observe any wound to the foot and are diabetic please come in right away,” Reber said. “There are many good treatment options. If we can heal the wound before it becomes infected, so many complications can be avoided. Seeing a podiatrist regularly is a great way for everyone to take good care of their feet.”
HOW D’OXYVA CAN HELP?
Clinical studies with D’OXYVA® (deoxyhemoglobin vasodilator) have shown extraordinary results for the role of transdermal noninvasive wound care using ultra-purified, nontoxic, FDA-cleared molecules, such as CO2, especially when all other approaches failed.
In an ongoing multiyear, multi-country, multicenter, randomized clinical trial on patients with diabetic foot ulcers, D’OXYVA has demonstrated speeding up diabetic wound healing and ultimately wound closure to an average of 5 weeks**.