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Diabetic Foot Ulcers

What are diabetic foot ulcers?

The effects of diabetes can slow wound healing anywhere in the body and can lead to a common type of wound called a diabetic ulcer. These most commonly to occur on the feet.

Diabetes can damage nerves and cause them to not work well. This can make it so that a person has a hard time feeling pressure, injury or changes in temperature. Diabetes can also cause damage to the blood vessels of the body. This can make it hard for oxygen and nutrients to get to tissue.

Diabetic foot ulcers can result from small cracks and cuts on the foot that go unnoticed because of nerve damage.

Who is at risk?

Risk factors that make a person more likely to develop a diabetic foot ulcer include:

  • Damage to the nerves of the foot
  • Poor circulation
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Shoes that don’t fit properly

What can you do?

  1. Wash your feet daily. Test the water first with your forearm or elbow to make sure that it is not too hot. Use a soft face cloth or cotton wool to clean in between the toes each time you wash.
  2. Dry your feet carefully with a soft towel. Make sure you dry thoroughly and gently between the toes.
  3. Use moisturising cream daily on dry skin. Avoid putting this between the toes unless you have been advised otherwise by your doctor or chiropodist/podiatrist.
  4. Do not use corn or hard skin treatments. Avoid using anything which may dry or irritate the skin. Check the labels for warnings. If your eyesight is poor ask a friend or family member for help.
  5. Inspect your feet daily. Check underneath your feet with a mirror or ask a friend or family member to help. If your skin becomes red, itchy or sore, or if hard skin cracks or open wounds appear, seek immediate advice from your doctor or chiropodist/podiatrist.
  6. Beware of temperatures which are too hot or cold. Try to keep your feet warm when the weather is cold by wearing warmer socks or tights. Choose winter shoes with thicker soles and avoid standing on cold surfaces for too long. Don't sit too close to  fires and heaters or put your feet on hot sand, heat pads or hot-water bottles as they  may burn your skin.
  7. Nailcare should be carried out carefully. Cut your nails following the shape of the toe, do not cut down the sides or comers and take care not to cut them too short. If your vision or reach is impaired, ask a friend or family member for help. If you have been advised not to cut your own nails or have any difficulty please contact your chiropodist/podiatrist. Even if you can manage your own nails you should still have your feet checked at least annually.
  8. Wear clean socks or tights daily. Choose pairs which are not too tight around your foot or ankle and have smooth seams which will not rub your toes.
  9. When you buy new shoes try to have your feet measured. Choose soft leather shoes free from bulky seams and with a rounded toe. Feel inside your shoes each day before wearing to check the sole is smooth and no objects have fallen inside. Do not walk barefoot even in the house.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a health care professional or a recommendation for any particular treatment plan. It is important that you contact your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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