When a person has diabetes, wounds can take longer to heal. High blood glucose affects both the immune system and the circulation. If the latter is not efficient, then nutrients aren’t delivered to the wound to promote repair of tissue.
Wounds on the feet and legs impact on mobility. There is a risk that a minor cut or abrasion can develop into a larger ulcer and even affect bone. Osteomyelitis (infection of bone) is a serious condition requiring hospitalisation. Chronic (present for more than three months), poorly healing ulcers are painful and stressful to manage. The worst outcome is amputation, but good wound management should always prevent this.
Initial assessment of any wound on the feet should ideally be with your podiatrist, but if there is none available then please see your doctor. It may be necessary to send you to a specialist wound clinic and there is no doubt that over the long-term you’ll see better and quicker healing with less complications, such as the formation of excess scar tissue.
Prevention and treatment
- Manage your blood glucose.
- Clean any cut or abrasion thoroughly.
- Practice good footcare.
- See your doctor at once for a significant wound, a minor cut that looks infected (red and swollen, maybe with pus) or a wound of any kind that doesn’t heal in a few days.
- Go for regular check-ups with a podiatrist.
- Wash your feet daily, drying between the toes and moisturise well.
- Inspect your feet daily.
- Trim toenails carefully.
- Don’t pull dry skin or shave callouses.
- Wear good shoes.
- Don’t walk barefoot.
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