When you have diabetes, your body becomes more susceptible to developing sores and ulcers. Now, ulcers are open sores that don’t heal fast and in the way they should. If you have diabetes, you will have more sores and ulcers on your feet, legs, hands, and even on your stomach.
One of the biggest reasons diabetic ulcers are common among people suffering from diabetes is high blood sugar. If you have high blood sugar, your nerves and blood vessels will be damaged after a significant period.
Now, if there are nerve and blood vessel damage, blood flow will be reduced and any of your sores or ulcers will not heal in time. This reduced blood flow to the legs and feet is known as a condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Eventually, this ulcer can also turn into an infection.
There are also chances that you might not even feel the pain of smaller sores or ulcers as nerve damage can lead to reduced sensation in your feet and legs. As mentioned earlier, ulcers, if not treated within a period, can lead to infections. Not only infections, but it can also cause gangrene under which one needs to amputate the infectious area.
What are the symptoms of diabetic ulcers?
The common early symptoms of diabetic ulcers are irritation, redness, unusual swelling, and odors from the affected areas. You might also find some drainage that will stain your socks or shoes. The common sign of a serious foot ulcer is the blackening of the tissue around the ulcer. The skin around the ulcer turns black because blood flow from your brain to your legs has been hindered by high blood sugar levels.
When the infection has spread in the surrounding areas, it might also lead to partial or complete gangrene. Under such circumstances, you might feel some odorous discharge but you might not even feel the pain due to the nerve damage.
Causes of diabetic ulcers:
The most common types of causes of diabetic ulcers are:
- Poor blood circulation:
For your wounds or sores to heal, you require your white blood cells which can efficiently heal all your wounds. However, when these white blood cells are not able to reach the wounds due to poor circulation, your wounds or ulcers are not healed naturally.
Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels in the body. If you have high blood sugar, your blood circulation will certainly be hindered as sometimes it can cause nerve as well as blood vessel damage.
This is generally the case in people who have type 2 diabetes accompanied by other health problems. Therefore, it is very essential to keep the blood sugar levels in control and treat those ulcers in time.
- Nerve damage:
As mentioned earlier, nerve damage can lead to decreased sensitivity to your foot pain or any wounds you have in your feet or your legs. Nerve damage is often the long –term effect of diabetes that reduces blood circulation and does not let the simplest of sores heal.
Treatment of diabetic ulcers:
Debridement is a medical procedure in which your doctor will remove the unhealthy tissue containing the dead cells from the wound and escalate the process of healing. This process can be done in the first stage when ulcers are just growing.
So, if you see any discoloring of the skin or some drainage, it is highly recommended to go to a doctor. Don’t postpone it, because, under extreme circumstances, you would have to amputate your leg.
Apart from this, the doctor can also prescribe you a set of steps to follow for preventing the ulcers or sores from getting bigger. These recommended steps include:
- Keep your ulcer clean: To regularly clean the sore, you need to use soap and water or any other cleanser prescribed by your doctor. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide as this may hinder the process of healing and may increase certain complications of your infections.
- Keep your ulcer covered: There might be certain bandaging steps recommended by your doctor, so follow that. Apart from that, never keep your wounds open as it can increase the risk of complications of your infection. Therefore, always try to cover it up.
- Avoid putting any pressure: If you have a diabetic ulcer on your foot, you probably will have to use crutches, footwear, or a brace as these will help to prevent pressurizing the foot on which you have the ulcer. Reducing pressure on that foot will help escalate the process of healing.
- Apply the medications regularly: Apply any topical medications prescribed by the doctor regularly or when the doctor has advised you to apply. These can be growth factors or even skin substitutes.
- Keep your blood sugar in check: Keeping the blood sugar levels in check is one of the most important things in diabetes as high blood sugar can lead to nerve and blood vessel damage. Moreover, controlled blood sugar can help you reduce the risk of ulcers and escalate the process of healing.
Foot ulcers are the most common types of diabetic ulcers that occur when you do manage your diet, exercise, or your insulin treatment. Generally, such kinds of ulcers are formed due to the breakdown of skin tissues, exposing the inner layers.
They are commonly found near your toes and balls of the feet, which can hinder your walking and even distract you from your daily activities.
Here are some tips to prevent ulcers altogether so you can focus on your toot problems more effectively:
- Check your skin every day: As mentioned earlier, ulcers are more likely to occur on your feet. So pay special attention to your feet and check if there are any blisters, cuts, or cracks along with any discoloration, redness, or irritation.
However, if your sensitivity is decreased you might not be able to catch the ulcer immediately. If you feel more warmth or cold than usual, it is a sign that you have a wound on your body.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking kills, literally. It can harm your blood vessels, reduce blood flow in your body and hinder the process of healing. This can complicate diabetic ulcers.
Always follow a healthy diet with no sugar to keep your diabetes in control. Consult a doctor when your wounds are not getting healed, you may require some other treatments.