AGH Wound Healing Center Offers Tips for People with Diabetes to Take a Step in the Right Direction and Avoid Amputation
As many as six million diabetics will have a foot ulcer that may result in chronic non-healing wounds and, in extreme cases, lead to amputation. Tragically, those cases are hardly isolated.
“Most people with diabetes know the importance of checking blood sugar levels while the importance of daily foot exams is underemphasized.” according to Marcus Blass MD, a general surgeon and the Medical Director of Allegan General Hospital’s Wound Healing Center. “The diabetic patient has a much higher risk for infection if a wound develops on the foot, which greatly increases the risk for amputation. Daily inspection and prompt treatment can deter serious complications.”
Dr. Blass recommends these foot care tips:
• Don’t count on foot pain to alert you to problems. Diabetes can cause changes in the skin on the feet as well as nerve damage, which can impair sensation of feeling. Visually inspect your feet and between your toes for blisters, cuts and red spots and swelling.
• Avoid crossing your legs: this can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels, possibly causing damage.
• Sit with your feet up to keep the blood flowing to them. Two or three times a day, wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for five minutes.
• To avoid blisters always wear properly fitting socks. Make sure socks are not tight below the knee.
• To prevent cracking and drying of your feet, rub the top and bottom with lotion, but not between the toes.
• Don’t go barefoot. Feel inside your shoes before putting them on to make sure they don’t have tears in the lining or foreign objects.
• Shoes must be fitted well. New shoes should be worn one to two hours a day for the first few weeks.
• Cut toenails straight across and don't trim them too short. Use an emery board to smooth corners of toenails or ingrown nails.
• Don’t pull loose pieces of skin off your feet. See a health care professional to have them removed.
• See your doctor if you experience any foot problems including if your foot changes in color, shape or just doesn’t feel right.
For more information about amputation prevention and treating and preventing chronic wounds, contact Allegan General Hospital’s Wound Healing Center at 269.686.4325.