Diabetes & Foot Wounds are a Dangerous Combination
If you are diabetic, even small foot wounds have the potential for becoming serious ulcers that can lead to amputation if not properly treated. In fact, the rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 percent higher than for people who do not have the disease. Fortunately, most of these amputations are preventable with good foot care and wound treatment.
Diabetics are at higher risk for wound-related complications than most people because diabetes decreases blood flow, making injuries more difficult to heal. Many diabetics also have reduced sensation in their hands and feet, and they may not notice a small wound immediately.
The best way to prevent complications is to take proper care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Wash both feet with soap and warm water and check them for injuries every day as part of your daily routine. Dry your feet thoroughly, and apply foot cream to prevent them from becoming dried and cracked. Also, avoid tight shoes that have pointed toes and high heels.
If you are diabetic and develop a foot sore despite preventive efforts, put a triple antibiotic cream on the sore immediately, cover it with light gauze, and avoid putting pressure on the sore. Treat calluses, which may become foot ulcers, with the same seriousness. Then, see a physician who specializes in treating chronic or severe wounds.
The physician will check the area where the sore is located to determine whether you have good circulation. He or she will remove infected and dead tissue from the sore and culture the area to determine the type of bacteria that is present. He also may place you in a special support boot until the sore heals.
A new treatment option for some patients is an innovative substance called Oasis. Oasis is natural porcine tissue that is appropriate for the treatment of diabetic, pressure, venous and chronic vascular ulcers. It protects the wound and gives your body an opportunity to produce its own new skin tissue.
Other treatment options for certain patients are Apligraf®, which is a living, skin-like substance, or Dermagraft, which is a skin substitute. Applying one of these substances to a wound is simple and painless. Unlike conventional skin grafts, there is no need for a surgeon to remove skin from another part of the body for the graft, thereby leaving two wounds to heal. Like human skin, Apligraf has an outer protective layer of cells and an inner layer containing cells that are important in the healing process.
Some patients require additional treatment in the form of hyperbaric therapy. Patients who undergo this advanced wound treatment at the MMC Wound Treatment Center rest in a comfortable hyperbaric chamber and breathe pure oxygen that is gradually pressurized. This process allows patients to dissolve more oxygen in their red blood cells and plasma. Oxygen circulates throughout the body and reaches tissues that are not receiving enough oxygen under normal circumstances.
This action stimulates new blood vessel growth and promotes healing during and after the treatment. Patients should show signs of new artery growth and healing by 14 to 20 treatments, but may need 40 to 50 treatments for maximum benefit. Hyperbaric treatment is rapidly gaining greater acceptance in this country and is helping a growing number of patients with chronic wounds heal without the need for amputation.