How to take care of your wounds if you have diabetes
Wounds and diabetes are incompatible enemies, especially if they occur in the feet. Having poor circulation in the legs, narrower arteries and loss of sensation due to a neuropathy (problem with nerve endings), can delay healing, increase the possibility of infections and even increase the risk of losing the leg. It is important that you know how to treat a wound or a scratch, even if they seem harmless, to avoid possible complications.
Usually, a pinprick on a toe, a blister that comes out of a shoe, or a cut when shaving, does not worry us much. They burn a little, they bother, but soon we do not even remember. If you have diabetes you can not afford that luxury. It is advisable that you learn to treat those minor wounds so that you avoid infections and that the wound heals as soon as possible.
Wounds can be complicated in patients with diabetes
Diabetes, in addition to changing the way your body produces, controls and uses glucose, brings about another series of complications that can hinder and slow the healing of wounds, even if they are mild. Among these are:
- Damage to the nerves (neuropathy) : the nerves responsible for receiving sensations in the skin may be damaged when diabetes has not been controlled. This puts you at risk of having less sensitivity in the feet, and then you may not realize that you have a blister, ulcer or wound until it gets worse or becomes infected.
- An immune system weakened by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which increases the chances of a wound becoming infected.
- Narrower arteries , which hinders good circulation, which is a fundamental factor when it comes to promoting healing and wound healing.
Treat wounds without losing a moment
It does not matter if it is tiny, almost a scratch, if it is a wound, give it all the importance of the world. Your health is at stake. This is what you have to do:
- Without wasting time, stop what you are doing and treat the wound immediately. The longer you wait, the longer bacteria have to infect the wound.
- Clean it well: run water from the pile on the wound to remove any dirt. Do not use soap or any other product that may irritate you. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and cover it with sterile gauze. Change the gauze daily. After the wound has closed, you can use soap to clean the area around it. Keep the wound covered to avoid contamination and infection and keep the affected area well moisturized. Check the wound daily to look for any symptoms of infection (redness of the edges, inflammation, pus or pain).
- If you notice some of the above symptoms, call the doctor. It is preferable that he or she determines the seriousness of the case and recommends what to do. If the wound became infected and the doctor has recited oral antibiotics (taken) or topical, apply them or take them without fail. If the infection does not respond to treatment at home, it will be necessary to treat it in a hospital.
- If the wound is on the soles of the feet, avoid putting pressure on it. This is an area of the body in which diabetics often have calluses and ulcers. If you have an ulcer or a wound on the sole of the foot, elevate the leg as much as possible so that it can heal and heal more quickly. You may need to use a cane, a special boot and even a wheelchair to prevent the foot from being in contact with the ground.
- Depending on how the wound responds and how it will heal, you may need to visit the doctor regularly to have it cleaned surgically, and so remove the skin and dead tissues to facilitate healing. It is likely that the doctor will send samples to the laboratory to determine which fungi or bacteria have caused the infection to be able to fight them better.
The wounds on the feet are the most dangerous
The feet and ankles are very vulnerable areas in diabetes patients because they tend to swell, which delays the healing of wounds. If the wound is present in an arm, for example, it can be immobilized even if the person can continue to move from one place to another. However, it is much more difficult to fully immobilize the foot or leg while healing the wound.
Diabetics also find it difficult to avoid foot injuries as they are more likely than other people to develop calluses, dry skin and damage to the nerve endings. All this increases the chances of ulcers (open sores) and infection. To make matters worse, diabetes also contributes to poor vision, so it is difficult to see and feel if they have a foot injury until it gets worse. A wound that does not heal, in the case of diabetics, can mean not only pain and inconvenience, but a serious danger of gangrene and even amputations of a finger, several or the entire foot.
Do not neglect According to reports from the American Podiatric Medical Association , up to 15% of diabetics develop foot ulcers and of course, you do not want to be part of the statistics. Keep in mind that, in the United States, diabetes is the most common cause of amputations in the lower extremities that have not been caused by trauma or accidents.
Preventing injuries is the key
As we have previously recommended in other articles of our site, the best way to avoid complications with foot injuries is to avoid them. Here I offer several tips so you can take care of your skin and your feet properly:
- Check your feet daily: check carefully if you have blisters, calluses, peeled or reddened areas. If you can not see clearly, ask a third person for help to examine your feet daily.
- Pay attention to the skin: check for changes that seem insignificant, such as redness or swollen areas around the nails. If you notice any problems, consult your doctor.
- Keep your feet well moisturized: use a moisturizer to keep the skin of your feet very soft, but do not use lotions between your fingers to avoid a fungal infection. To treat athlete’s foot (a very common infection), use a medication in gel and not in cream so there is no residue between the fingers.
- Wear appropriate shoes: if your shoes are too narrow or too big they can cause blisters. Try to get the best fit. Wear closed shoes to avoid injury to your fingers, even in your home. Check the shoes daily to remove any pebbles or dirt that could accidentally enter and cause chafing and injury to the sole of the foot.
- Beware of stockings: avoid those with annoying seams that rub against you and those that maintain moisture. If you can, acquire special diabetic stockings.
- Wash your feet carefully daily and dry them well.
- If you have a callus, try to reduce it with a file or pumice stone. Never cut it with scissors or knives.
- Trim your nails and file the edges to avoid ingrown nails.
And last but not least, keep your diabetes under control. That includes monitoring your blood sugar level, taking your medications, monitoring your diet and keeping you physically active.
Do not forget to give the importance it deserves to any wound on your feet no matter how small. In this way, it will heal quickly, without causing infections or unnecessary complications.