If you have diabetes, you know very well that a small cut can turn into a large complication if you’re not careful and mindful. But, how? And why?
A couple of reasons.
One, diabetes can lead to a weakened immune system, so that a simple scrape or small cut can become infected much more quickly than in a person who does not have diabetes.
Two, neuropathy. Neuropathy is nerve damage, one of the many side effects of diabetes, and it can play a huge role in wounds not healing properly.
Neuropathy occurs because extra sugar in the bloodstream can damage nerves over time. It usually starts in the smallest blood vessels, which are in the hands and feet. As a result, individuals with diabetes may not feel pain if they have a cut or blister on a foot, putting them at risk for infection. That’s why regularly inspecting your feet for cuts, scrapes, blisters, calluses, and other wounds is such an important part of diabetes care.
The reality is, diabetic wounds require high attention to achieve healing.
To help achieve the best possible healing environment and protect against infection, here are six key factors to keep in mind when treating diabetic wounds.
Wound Assessment – Diabetic wounds fall into three basic categories: neuropathic, ischemic, and neuroischemic. Knowing the distinct features of each category is essential to identifying wound progression, infection, and healing. Failure to properly identify the type of wound that exists can lead to an ineffective diabetic wound treatment plan, causing long-term complications or even amputation. So in a nutshell, see a doctor who is qualified to identify and classify your wound.
Tissue Debridement – the removal of necrotic tissue from a wound will reduce pressure, stimulate healing, allow for inspection of underlying tissue and help with secretion or drainage. Only an experienced practitioner, who knows which section of the tissue to remove without damaging blood vessels, nerves, or tendons, should perform debridement. Debridement is an important part of a treatment plan for advanced diabetic wounds.
Infection Control – Infections are the main concern with diabetic wounds. Typically, oral and topical antibiotics will be used. Additionally, topical antimicrobials can reduce bacteria, protect against further contamination, and prevent the spread of infection deeper into the wound. Typical wound dressings used in treating diabetic wounds are infused with antimicrobial agents to help fight infection.
Moisture Balance – Choosing the right dressing for a diabetic wound is essential to successful wound healing. The proper wound dressing will help maintain a balanced moisture environment (not too wet or too dry) and allow the wound to drain and heal properly. The location of the wound will also be taken into consideration by your doctor.
Underlying Factors – A diabetes wound patient must be treated holistically in order to identify underlying issues and reduce risk factors that are causing wounds in the first place. Achieving control of diabetes is difficult but essential, especially concerning blood glucose levels, proper nutrition, high blood pressure, and smoking cessation. Other factors, such as proper footwear and adequate blood supply to extremities, need to be assessed.
It has been estimated that by 2030, more than 550 million people around the world will have diabetes. Approximately 25 percent of these diabetic patients will develop foot ulcers during their lifetime, which often require advanced diabetic wound treatment to prevent complications.
If you have diabetes, it is important to have an open line of communication with your doctor and to work together to manage your health. Call the specialists at Lam Vascular & Associates to schedule an appointment today.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.