Foot ulcer refers to a patch of broken down skin, usually on the lower leg or foot. If blood sugar levels are high, regular skin that would normally heal may not properly repair itself because of nerve damage. This is termed diabetic foot ulcer. Foot ulcers get aggravated due to poorly controlled diabetes. Experts suggest that around 10% of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer at some point during their lives.
Neuropathy, poor blood circulation, ill-fitting footwear, and walking barefoot can increase the likelihood of developing a foot ulcer. Smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, or blood pressure can all intensify diabetic foot ulcer risk. Infected ulcers can result in amputation if neglected. As per the American Podiatric Medical Association, 14 to 24% of Americans with diabetic foot ulcers have amputations.
Thus, it is essential to treat diabetic foot ulcers, but first, it is important to identify the symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers.
The following are some of the symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers:
- Unusual swelling, irritation, redness, and unpleasant odors from one or both feet are early symptoms of a foot ulcer.
- The most visible sign of a serious foot ulcer is black tissue surrounding the ulcer. It forms due to absence of healthy blood flow to the area around the ulcer.
- Partial or complete gangrene, which refers to tissue death, can appear around the ulcer. Odorous discharge, pain, and numbness might occur.
Although there are various symptoms, sometimes they won’t appear until the ulcer has become infected. Talk to your doctor if you begin to see any skin discoloration, especially tissue that has turned black, or feel any pain around an area that appears abrasive or irritated.
Your doctor will identify the seriousness of your ulcer on a scale of 0 to 3 using the following criteria:
- No ulcer but foot at risk
- Ulcer present but no infection
- Ulcer deep, exposing joints and tendons
- Extensive ulcers or eruptions from infection
Diabetic Foot Ulcer Treatment
An infection is a serious problem of a foot ulcer and thus requires immediate treatment. However, not all infections are treated the same way.
Tissue from near the ulcer may be sent to a lab to determine which antibiotic will help. If your doctor suspects a severe infection, he or she may order an X-ray to check for signs of bone infection. Depending on the condition, doctors can remove diabetic foot ulcers with a debridement.
Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic or anti-clotting medications to treat your ulcer if the infection progresses even after preventive or anti-pressure treatments.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer Treatment Products
- Dressings containing silver or silver sulfadiazine cream
- Polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) gel or solutions
- Iodine (either povidone or cadexomer)
- Medicinal honey in ointment or gel form
- D’OXYVA, which speeds up diabetic wound healing and ultimately leads to wound closure
If no other diabetic foot ulcer management methods can help your ulcer heal effectively, surgery can be done to prevent the ulcer from becoming worse or leading to amputation.