Foot ulcers are open sores or wounds that can occur in patients with diabetes. These wounds can affect the bottom of your foot and become infected if left untreated. You might need diabetic foot care if you notice swelling, redness, and a strong odor in your feet. Here are common questions about foot ulcers:
1. What Are the Causes of Foot Ulcers?
Foot ulcers in people with diabetes can be caused by:
- Poor circulation: Poor circulation can hinder blood flow to the feet making it hard for ulcers to heal.
- Nerve damage: Nerve damage can lead to a loss of sensitivity to pain in your feet leading to painless wounds that can cause ulcers.
- High blood sugar: Patients with high glucose levels tend to heal slowly when they have infected foot ulcers.
- Irritated feet: Dry skin and infections can cause irritated feet. Such skin conditions cause the skin to crack and bleed, leading to ulcers.
Risk factors to keep in mind for foot ulcers are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Uncomfortable shoes and poor hygiene can also contribute to ulcers.
2. What Are the Symptoms of Foot Ulcers?
One of the initial signs of foot ulcers can be drainage on your socks and shoes. You might notice the following symptoms:
- Strange smell
- Firmness around the wound
Gangrene is a potential sign of foot ulcers which can cause odorous discharge, pain, and numbness. A severe ulcer might come with black tissue or skin discoloration.
3. How Are Foot Ulcers Diagnosed?
If you have the above symptoms, you need to see a podiatrist for diagnosis. This expert can help determine the severity of your foot ulcers. MRI scans can reveal signs of inflammation and the extent of damage from the ulcers.
X-rays help identify bone mass loss that might have occurred due to diabetes. Blood tests can detect if there’s any infection in the foot ulcers. An expert can examine the affected area to find out if your foot is numb or painful.
4. What Are Treatment Plans for Foot Ulcers?
Your treatment plan can depend on the severity of the foot ulcer, medical history, and current medications. If you have a less-serious ulcer, a podiatrist can treat you and recommend proper care at home.
A severe foot ulcer might require regular diabetic foot care to promote healing. Here are treatment options that can help manage ulcers:
- Offloading: This involves taking the pressure off the affected area. Using a wheelchair or crutches can reduce irritation and strain on your feet.
- Medications: Your doctor can prescribe antiplatelets, antibiotics, and anticlotting medication to manage infection. Ibuprofen can reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Debridement: This treatment involves removing foreign objects, dead skin, and tissue that might have caused the ulcer.
- Surgery: If you have gangrene, a podiatric surgeon can surgically remove the dead tissue. Your doctor may suggest a hospital stay to help you heal and for close monitoring.
5. How Do I Take Care of Foot Ulcers?
An infected wound needs daily cleaning and fresh bandages. Apply topical medications when changing your bandage to reduce the chances of infection. Wear appropriate shoes and follow a healthy diet as suggested by your healthcare provider. Examine your legs for cracks or blisters and see a doctor immediately if you notice any of those issues. Take care of ingrown nails and hydrate often.
Seek Professional Diabetic Foot Care
Treating a foot ulcer early on can prevent the spread of infection to your bones. You can opt for professional diabetic foot care to help manage the ulcers and promote healing. Visit a podiatrist if you notice a peculiar odor from your feet, swelling, or discharge. An expert can recommend a personalized treatment plan to manage foot ulcers.