Those with diabetes are at high risk for foot ulcers, but there are other factors that can put you at risk as well. A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the foot and is a common complication of diabetes. Once you know if you are at risk for a foot ulcer, there are various ways to prevent one. It is important to consult with a podiatrist at the first sign of an ulcer before it develops into something more serious.
People at Risk for Foot Ulcers
Patients with diabetes are at risk for developing a foot ulcer. But others can be at risk as well, including:
- Those with peripheral neuropathy/nerve damage
- Those with peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Those with varicose veins
- Those who smoke and/or consume alcohol
- Those with a history of foot ulcers
- Those with high blood pressure
- Those who live a sedentary life
- Those with foot deformities such as a bunion or hammertoe
In addition, those who wear shoes that do not fit properly can be at risk for a foot ulcer. Shoes that are too tight or too big can rub areas of the feet and cause blisters which can turn into ulcers. Additionally, those who don’t take proper measures to care for their feet can be at risk. For example, if you do not dry your feet and toes completely after bathing, a fungal infection can occur and lead to a foot ulcer.
Signs and Possible Complications
Diabetic patients and those at a high risk for a foot ulcer need to pay close attention to their feet and recognize the signs of an ulcer before it becomes a serious problem. Some signs of a foot ulcer are:
- Visible blood or drainage on the socks
- Foul odor that may indicate an infection
If you have any signs of a diabetic foot ulcer, consult with a podiatrist immediately. Without treatment, an ulcer can become infected, and the infection can spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. Once an infection begins to spread, you may need to be hospitalized. Gangrene can occur due to loss of blood flow to the area, and amputation may also be needed to stop further spread of the infection.
Reducing Your Risk
You can reduce the risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer if you:
- Stop smoking, and minimize the amount of alcohol you consume.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and do not cause friction.
- Always wear socks to protect your feet.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Wash your feet daily, and do daily checks of your feet to look for any abnormalities, cuts, blisters, wounds, or signs of an ulcer.
- Contact a podiatrist immediately if you notice any signs of a foot ulcer or other foot problems.
If you are diabetic or at high risk for a foot ulcer and have questions or concerns about your feet, contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for an evaluation. To request an appointment in our Grapevine or Keller office, fill out our convenient online contact form, or call our office today.