Ulcers have been the inherent enemy of man for ages now, and these people tend to suffer from these daily and that too quite commonly, so much so that you are highly likely to already have experienced them, probably, more than a couple of times.
Diabetic ulcers are the same, only this term is used for diabetic patients. This is because diabetes tends to make an individual more prone to having sores and ulcers.
But this is more common than you might think it is, ulcerations connected to diabetes are the most cause of foot ulcers and about 15% of people with diabetes are most likely to develop foot ulcers.
These are most likely to appear in one’s feet and legs – a foot ulcer looks like a red fissure in the skin which may or may not be surrounded by a thick, calloused skin.
But, they also tend to form around in other places in your body like your hands, stomach, mouth, etc…
But why do these happen? Well, let’s take a look at that now.
Causes of diabetic ulcers
According to studies and research, diabetic peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage is the provoking factor in about 90% of diabetic foot ulcers.
Chronically, high blood sugar levels tend to damage nerves, including the motor, sensory, as well as autonomic nerves.
Additionally, diabetic peripheral neuropathy also damages the immune system and severely impairs the body’s ability to fight infections.
This is yet another one of the most common and widespread causes of diabetic foot ulcers. It refers to congestion and slowing of blood circulation in the veins that result from a failure of the valves in the veins of the leg.
Lower extremity ischemia
Lower extremity ischemia in simpler terms is a lack of blood flow that tends to arise due to peripheral artery disease and is a primary cause of diabetic ulcers
Diabetes can damage blood vessels by causing inflammation or hardening of the arteries which further causes ischemia, a condition wherein the blood circulation in the arteries gets restricted and the availability of imperative nutrients to tissues in the body significantly reduces.
And this in turn increases the risk of an ulcer becoming infected and healing slowly, or not at all in certain conditions.
Other risk factors that are associated with the formation of diabetic foot ulcers include:
Poor foot hygiene.
This includes poor circulation, use of footwear that doesn’t suit one’s foot condition, irritability or lack of feeling in the foot, and foot deformities as well to some extent.
Smoking is injurious
Cigarette smoking is also a serious risk factor when it comes to diabetic foot ulcers. And its effects have been shown right from worsening neuropathy to extremely slow healing.
- Previous foot ulcerations also tend to play a role of being potential risk factors for the development of such new infections.
- Poor blood sugar levels only increase the chances of the development of diabetic foot ulcers; excess weight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of getting ulcers.
The most common signs and symptoms of a diabetic foot ulcer include the occurrence of drainage on the individual’s socks, redness and/or swelling in that specific area, and a typical odor if the infection has increased.
Treatment of diabetic ulcers
Diabetic ulcers are of quite serious concern as these can be dangerous for diabetic patients and that is primarily because their already impaired immune system makes it difficult for their body to fight infections.
Thereby makes it worse and increases the risk of more local and/or severe infections.
So, before it gets any worse, one should consult their trusted doctor as soon as possible for the treatment of diabetic ulcers so that antibiotic therapy can be initiated.
Some other ways in which you could fasten the pace of the treatment are:
- Keep your blood sugar in optimal control. As hyperglycemia tends to increase the pathogenicity of infectious microorganisms, it is of utmost importance to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep them in check.
- Take care of your wound and look after it. Keep it covered and moist and change the dressing regularly (if you have one) as this ensures quicker healing and a low-risk infection.
- Debridement is a crucial element of the treatment – it involves the removal of all the thickened skin, infected and dead tissue, and residual matter from the dressing to keep the wound clean.
- Make sure that you take the pressure off the particular ulcerated area (also known as “off-loading”) and that there is adequate circulation in that area.
- Avoid using/applying any medications or products without consulting a doctor first; ulcer dressings and products that have saline are quite effective as they enhance the healing of the wound.
If there is no progress or if the infection is spreading and the wound is worsening, then it is best to consider a doctor and try out surgical options as soon as possible.
Prevention is always better than cure. So make sure you keep the following preventive measures in mind and take the necessary precautions that will help you with the risk reduction of diabetic ulcers.
- Maintain proper foot hygiene by regularly cleaning, washing, moisturizing, and exfoliating your feet; check for cuts, blisters, bruises, cracks, redness, etc., daily to avoid possible infections.
- Wear appropriate shoes and/or socks or any footwear that suits your feet the best and doesn’t cause shoe bites, irritability, suffocation, etc., by being too tight or of poor quality.
- Avoid going barefoot at all costs.
- Cut down smoking as much as possible and also lower your alcohol consumption to a great extent.
- Take necessary measures to reduce high cholesterol.
- Keep your glucose levels in check.
- Reduce friction and pressure to reduce wear and tear.
- Take measures to restore adequate blood flow.
So, stay away from diabetic ulcer infections by thoroughly applying these preventive measures and in case you get an ulcer, strictly adhere to the treatment procedures.