When it comes to skin wounds, diabetics have to be extremely careful. Diabetes damages the blood vessels, leading to poor circulation and increasing the risk for peripheral neuropathy, a condition that can cause numbness and weakness in the feet and other parts of the body. People with reduced sensation have a heightened risk for skin wounds, as they do not always feel pain and pressure, making it difficult to recognize when they have come into contact with something that can damage the skin. Once skin wounds develop, the vascular damage caused by diabetes also slows the healing process, putting diabetics at risk of infection and other complications. If you have diabetes, follow these tips to prevent your wounds from getting worse.
1. Treat wounds immediately. Since diabetes interferes with the healing process, minor wounds can quickly become infected, causing severe pain and increasing the likelihood of serious complications. If you notice a wound, don't ignore it. Even if it's something simple like a blister on your toe or a small cut on your hand, it needs to be addressed right away. Clean the wound thoroughly and cover it with a bandage to prevent bacteria from getting under the skin.
2. Keep pressure off wounded areas of your body. Putting pressure on a wound interferes with the healing process, so it's important to look for ways to relieve pressure. If the wound is on your foot or leg, stay off your feet as much as possible. If you have to work or meet other obligations, your doctor may be able to recommend a walking cast or boot to ensure that pressure is distributed evenly instead of concentrated around your wound. If the wound is on your buttocks or the back of your thigh, reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
3. Don't try to treat serious wounds on your own. If you have a serious wound, seek medical attention right away. Trying to treat it at home can actually increase your risk of infection, as the wound may harbor infectious organisms. Your doctor may recommend wound debridement, which is a process in which a medical professional removes infected tissue. Debridement stimulates wound healing and prevents the risk of complications.
4. Get regular wound checks. One of the most difficult aspects of diabetic wound care is how quickly a minor wound can turn into something more. If a medical professional does not check your wounds regularly, you may not notice early signs of infection, leading to serious complications that can affect your quality of life. Ask your doctor for a referral to a clinic that provides ongoing wound care services. Each time you visit the clinic, you'll have the opportunity to discuss any wound-related problems you've been having and learn how to prevent these wounds from getting worse between appointments.
Diabetes is difficult to manage, but there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing complications. If you have slow-healing wounds, be sure to address them right away, whether you take care of a minor wound at home or visit an urgent care clinic to have a medical professional dress the wound. Regular visits to a wound clinic can also help you avoid complications and learn how to avoid new wounds.