Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Why You Should Never Ignore Them
Diabetic foot ulcers can begin in a mundane way. Maybe it’s a new pair of shoes or an extra long walk. Next thing you know, you have a small callus or blister on your foot.
The problem arises when you lose feeling in your feet. If you keep walking instead of stopping or changing shoes, a small sore may turn into a more serious wound. Up to 10 percent of people with diabetes will end up with a foot ulcer, podiatrist William Scott, DPM, says.
“Patients come to see me and they say, ‘One day, I just took off my sock, and I saw blood. I have no idea why or how it happened,’” he says.
These ulcers cause the skin to wear away, most commonly because of damaged nerves in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy), resulting from diabetes. Although ulcers are sometimes dangerous and can lead to amputation, the key is prevention, Dr. Scott says.
How can you prevent foot ulcers?
Here are some tips to preventing foot ulcers:
- Watch your blood sugar. The best way to prevent diabetic foot ulcers is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled glucose is often behind neuropathy, which causes loss of feeling in the feet and may allow a sore to go unnoticed. Maintaining normal glucose levels will also help any sores on the foot heal faster. This can help keep ulcers from developing.
- Pay attention to your feet. Dr. Scott says it’s important to conduct daily foot inspections if you have diabetes. Catching a sore early can go a long way in preventing major problems. Can’t see the bottoms of your feet? Try this: Put a mirror on the floor and hold each foot over it. Or ask a family member to check all areas of your feet regularly.