When you notice a small crack in your car windshield, do you think much about it? You may not at first. You may discover, however, that the small crack starts to look bigger and more serious as time goes on and you continue to drive without fixing it. Some problems that start small and simple can easily become big ones when they are not taken care of. For a person living with diabetes, problems in your feet can be similar to that windshield crack. Even small surface injuries can deepen and become ulcers, threatening your whole foot.
Ulcers are areas of skin that have broken down and refuse to heal, leaving a sore. It may be red and have dry, itchy skin around it. Sometimes the area swells. It generally looks raw and may ooze. If the discharge is puss-filled, or the skin feels inflamed, the wound may already be infected. Anywhere that rubs against shoes or takes a lot of pressure is vulnerable to ulceration, though you could just as easily develop it from an injury.
Diabetics are particularly prone to these because the fluctuating sugar levels damage so many tissues in the body. The skin is also dryer and more prone to injuries. If you’ve had nerve damage in your feet, you’re less likely to notice a problem on your skin and take care of it, giving it a chance to get worse. Since diabetes also damages your immune system, the resulting wounds not only don’t heal well, they allow infections into the body. Sometimes diabetic ulcers can damage so much tissue, or become so badly infected, that amputation is necessary. So even though an ulcer may start small—a little cut, some dried and cracking skin, a small blister—it can become a real problem.
Fixing the Crack
If you discover an ulcer on your foot, you need to have it examined and cared for right away. The experts at Absolute Foot Care Specialists will clean away the dead and damaged skin on the outside to see how deep the wound has gotten. Once they have cleaned out the sore, they are able to bandage it. The bandage will need to be changed multiple times and often has special instructions. Whether you or a family member can change your dressing, or if Dr. Levine will need to care for it, depends on your individual situation. If you have developed an infection, you will also need to take antibiotics to fight it.
Preventing the Problem
Preventing a diabetic ulcer from occurring in the first place is much better than having to deal with a full-blown wound later. Taking even small, simple steps can go a long way in keeping your feet clear. Wash your feet every day and inspect them for changes in your skin—and get help if you notice anything unusual. Use moisturizer regularly so your skin is less dry. Wear good socks and well-fitted shoes that support your feet, but don’t squeeze or put pressure in unusual places. You may need custom orthotics to help you cushion your feet as well.
If you are diabetic and notice any sort of changes or pain in your feet, you cannot afford to ignore it. Even small injuries can develop into serious wounds that threaten your overall health and may lead to amputation if allowed to get out of hand. Ulcers are a significant problem and need to be dealt with immediately, so don’t wait and see what it looks like in a few days. Contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas for an appointment or more information by visiting the online contact page or by calling (702) 839-2010.