Diabetic foot ulcer; Ulcer - foot
If you have diabetes, you have an increased chance of developing foot sores, or ulcers, also called diabetic ulcers.
Foot ulcers are the most common reason for hospital stays for people with diabetes. It may take weeks or even several months for foot ulcers to heal. Diabetic ulcers are often painless.
Whether or not you have a foot ulcer, you will need to learn more about taking care of your feet.
Debridement is the process to remove dead skin and tissue. Your doctor or nurse will need to do this to be able to see your foot ulcer. There are many ways to do this. One way is to use a scalpel and special scissors.
Other ways to remove dead or infected tissue are to:
Foot ulcers are partly caused by too much pressure on one part of your foot.
Your doctor may ask you to wear special shoes, or a brace or a special cast. You may need to use a wheelchair or crutches until the ulcer has healed. These devices will take the pressure off of the ulcer area. This will help speed healing.
Be sure to wear shoes that do not put a lot of pressure on only one part of your foot.
To care for your wound:
Your doctor or nurse may use different kinds of dressings to treat your ulcer.
Wet-to-dry dressings are often used first. This process involves applying a wet dressing to your wound. As the dressing dries, it absorbs wound material. When the dressing is removed, some of the tissue comes off with it.
Other types of dressings are:
Keep your dressing and the skin around it dry. Try not to get healthy tissue around your wound too wet from your dressings. This can soften the healthy tissue and cause more foot problems.
Call your doctor if you have any of these signs and symptoms of infection:
Also call your doctor if your foot ulcer is very white, blue, or black.
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2014. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:S14-S80.
Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Cooper ME, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011: chap 33.
Kim PJ, Steinberg JS. Complications of the diabetic foot. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am. 2013;42:833-847.
Updated by: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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