Foot and ankle issues have quite the range when it comes to the degree of severity. Some issues are easily treated, whereas others can ultimately become life-threatening. On the “highly-severe” side of the scale is the matter of diabetic foot ulcers. As you understand what happens with untreated foot wounds, it’s very easy to see why you are best off doing everything you can to avoid them.
If you don’t have diabetes, it is important to treat foot wounds, and not let them fester. Unless you have numbness caused by nondiabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), you will likely be able to tell when the wound has developed – that is, after all, one of the important responsibilities of your peripheral nerves.
In the event you don’t have diabetes and you cut or scrape a foot, it’s a good idea to clean the wound carefully, and then apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. As long as your body’s immune system isn’t compromised, your white blood cells will do everything they can to fight off any microorganisms (bacterial, fungal, or viral) that try to invade your body.
Major problems can develop, though, if you are diabetic and ignore a foot wound. Ignoring the wound doesn’t have to be intentional; even if you aren't aware of the problem on account of neuropathy, letting it go unaddressed can lead to a critical situation. Specifically, the continued breakdown of a wound (ulceration) can potentially culminate in an eventual gangrenous condition.
When in early stages, come see us for treatment of wounds—basically anything out of the ordinary that could potentially lead to ulceration (including blisters, ingrown toenails, corns and calluses, warts, cuts, and scrapes)—but it’s better to simply prevent them in the first place. The best way to do so is to use the following measures:
- Inspect your feet daily. Every single day you should check your feet for cuts, cracks, blisters, tenderness, redness, and swelling. If you are unable to see the bottoms of your feet, you may need to either enlist the help of a loved one or use a mirror.
- Wash your feet daily. In addition to a daily foot inspection, you also need to wash your lower limbs every day in lukewarm water (not hot!). After your feet are washed, be gentle, but thorough, when drying them. Make sure to dry between the toes!
Dryness is essential for reducing infection risk—since bacteria, viruses, and fungi need moisture to survive—so we may recommend talcum powder or cornstarch be used between the toes to keep the area dry. At the same time, you need to prevent cracks developing from dry skin, so moisturize the tops and bottoms of your feet (but avoid the areas between your toes) with a cream or lotion. Need a recommendation for specific types? Contact our office and we will be glad to help.
- Don't remove calluses or other foot lesions yourself. One of the biggest mistakes diabetic individuals make is trying to handle calluses, plantar warts, and other issues on their own using nail files, clippers, scissors, or chemical wart removers. Instead of trying to do it on your own, request an appointment with our team and let us do it safely for you.
- Don't go barefoot. To reduce your risk of sustaining an injury to your feet, don't go barefoot, even around the house. Further, make sure to check your socks and shoes before putting them on (to make sure there isn’t anything inside).
- Wear diabetic shoes and socks. If you have diabetes, your feet need special protection. Choosing the right kinds of socks and shoes will protect your feet, whereas the wrong ones can potentially cause damage. When you see us, we can make sure you are choosing the correct types of diabetic footwear.
- Schedule regular foot checkups. You should definitely see us when problems arise, but it is important to come in for regular foot exams (on an annual basis – at the very least). Depending on the nature of your case, we may recommend you see us more often.
Whereas we can perform a wide range of treatments to address medical issues, the best practice is taking measures to prevent them. Need help understanding exactly what that entails? We’re here to help!
Contact Parker Foot & Ankle today by calling (281) 497-2850 and request your appointment. We’ll prepare your diabetic foot care plan so you can keep your feet safe, healthy, and free from diabetic ulcers.