What is diabetic foot ulcer? Tips for treating or managing it
- About 25% of people with diabetes develop diabetic foot ulcers during their lifetime. If untreated, they pose a risk of amputation.
Among a plethora of health complications that one of India's fastest growing chronic diseases Diabetes bring along, foot ulcers have become a cause of concern for many.
Foot troubles can be common in people with diabetes as the health condition may cause nerve damage over a period of time which is called diabetic neuropathy that can eventually make you lose sensation in your feet. When this happens, certain cuts and wounds developing in the feet may get unnoticed which could lead to infections. The nerve damage and the restricted blood flow in the lower extremities of people with diabetes can develop diabetic foot ulcers. If left untreated, in some cases it could also lead to full or partial amputation.
"About 25% of people with diabetes develop diabetic foot ulcers during their lifetime. Sometimes an innocent-looking ulcer on the feet of a person with diabetes can cause severe infection-like wet gangrene, cellulitis, abscess, and necrotizing fasciitis, which may cause total or partial foot amputation- if left untreated. Around one in five people with diabetes who are hospitalized after developing a diabetic foot ulcer undergo a foot amputation, affecting patients as well as the families," says Dr. Amar Pal Singh Suri, MBBS, CPP (Podiatry), Diabetic Foot Care Centre, New Delhi.
Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Dr Suri also talks about the symptoms of foot ulcers.
It is important for people with diabetes to take care of their feet by washing and drying them properly, try to keep the skin between the toes dry. If you notice any corns or calluses in your feet, you must consult your doctors. "People who have uncontrolled blood sugar levels should undergo a comprehensive foot inspection once every year," says Dr. Suri.
Here are the symptoms of foot ulcers that you must pay attention to
Discoloration of skin
Numbness, tingling, and pain in the legs
Blisters or other wounds on the foot
Loss of balance
Foul smell from foot
People with diabetes must never ignore the symptoms of the diabetic foot to avert developing complications that sometimes may be irreversible.
Managing the diabetic foot
Removal of deal cells
In case of diabetic foot early management is the key. Once an infection is developed, the risk of amputation invariably increases.
"The primary objective for the treatment of diabetic foot is to debride the wound and release pressure from the affected area as swiftly as possible. The early management and closure of foot ulcers decrease the probability of developing an infection. In cases where there is no infection at the ulcer site, the doctors usually remove dead cells or debride the area and apply some topical medicines or dress the ulcer," says Dr. Suri.
However, managing diabetic feet where the infection has set is not that easy as controlling bacterial growth in the glucose-rich tissue environment can be tricky. What is more distressing is the inability to prevent infection at the site of an ulcer can lead to amputation.
According to a study, it was found that one in every five people with diabetic feet who have been hospitalized due to severe foot infection underwent foot amputation, and about 50% of them later died within five years after the amputation, as per Dr. Suri.
The diabetic foot wound healing treatment has shown promise with advancement in science and has progressed substantially over the last few years. The availability of new chemical entities like DPOCL (Diperoxochloric acid), has helped in managing diabetic foot ulcers more effectively.
With overall awareness and newer treatments, diabetic foot ulcers can be managed in better light in a dense diabetic population of the country, concludes Dr. Suri.