Diabetic foot wounds require special attention and care due to the potential complications associated with diabetes. People with diabetes often develop foot wounds that are difficult to heal because the condition affects blood circulation and nerve function in your feet. Hence, it's crucial to adopt effective treatments to prevent long-term infections and amputation.

Let's discuss how to prevent diabetic foot wounds and treatments to promote a faster and safer recovery.

How Do You Treat a Cut On a Diabetic Foot?

As we mentioned before, broken skin on the foot is more likely to become infected because of diabetes. This means that treatment for diabetic cuts or wounds should be almost immediate. So, what are some treatments for a cut on a diabetic foot?

When you come into the office with a diabetic foot ulcer, I will need to assess it in a number of ways," said Dr. Andrew Schneider. "I will measure the dimensions of the wound to serve as a reference to assess healing. I will look at the depth of the wound to ensure it is not approaching the underlying bone. I will also assess if your blood flow is good enough and whether or not the wound is infected," He added.
"My first priority is to address any infection. It is essential to ensure that any infection is treated; otherwise, it will be an impediment to healing foot ulcer," continued Dr. Andrew. "I will then perform a debridement of the wound. That's a procedure that is done in the office where I remove any devitalized tissue that will get in the way of the wound healing. This is an important procedure that will be repeated regularly. I usually debride the wound at least every two weeks. It's then time to determine what is the best wound dressing to get your wound healed as quickly as possible," he summed up.

There are many ways to dress a diabetic wound to speed up the healing process, from using special ointments to opting for alginates to absorb any fluid from the wound.

"(When choosing the best wound dressing for a diabetic), there is no shortage of choices. I can use an ointment that uses an enzyme to keep the unhealthy tissue away from the wound. Another ointment has growth factors in it to promote healing," says Dr. Andrew. "There are wound dressings that are composed of collagen, which also promotes healing. Other dressings are composed of alginates or foams to absorb any drainage coming from the wound. There are also specialty dressings; These are skin graft types of dressings that serve as a biological dressing for the wound. Others use donated amniotic membranes to promote healing. Lately, I have been using a technology called Actigraft, where we draw our own blood in the office and inject it into a mold that contains clotting factors. It clothes and creates a biological dressing using your blood and growth factors. The results have been phenomenal."

Diabetic foot ulcers can be caused by pressure on the feet , which the patient may not notice due to nerve damage and lack of feeling in the feet. Hence, alleviating pressure entirely or partially from the weight-bearing section of the foot and using mechanical support to rest the wounded area can contribute to the healing process.

It's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing a diabetic foot wound. Each solution highlighted above is tailored to an individual circumstance or wound property. Since diabetic foot ulcers are potentially life-threatening, we suggest you shouldn't sleep on any minor cut or sore on your foot as a diabetic. You must visit your doctor once you notice any ulcer to determine the ideal treatment option for it.

Illustration Of A Wound On A Diabetic Foot

What Happens If a Diabetic Gets an Untreated Cut On Their Foot?

Wounds are a big worry, especially for people with diabetes. If we don't keep a close eye on them, they can quickly turn into infections or even more serious problems.

The scariest thing is the chance of amputation. According to studies, people with diabetes are 15 times more likely to have a part of their foot amputated because of wounds or ulcers.

So, it's super important to check and take care of any wounds regularly, and if you notice something off, get help fast. Doing these simple things can really help avoid the risk of losing a part of your foot.

How To Prevent Cuts and Sores?

The best method to cure a diabetic foot ulcer is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Diabetics with the following conditions have a higher risk of developing wounds, sores, and ulcers on their feet.

Here are some ways you can avoid getting cuts or sores on your feet:

Invest in Appropriate Shoes and Other Footwear

Wear well-fitting, supportive, and breathable shoes, like sneakers for diabetics, that support arches well by having good arch support built-in as well as flexible soles made out of rubber materials that grip the floor. Avoid wearing shoes with heels that make it difficult for you to walk around and that hurt your feet.

Use special diabetes footwear that reduces the risk of foot ulcers and other complications around the foot, such as high arches, toe deformities (e.g., hammertoes), or thickened pads of fat in the sole of the foot, called podiatry edema.

Wear well-fitting cotton diabetic socks, like nano socks, each day when going outside, which cover any bug bites/wounds, or wear sandals for diabetics when you can to allow the skin on feet and toes to get air and breathe. 

Practice Good Hygiene

Practice good hygiene by washing your feet daily and drying them thoroughly after bathing or swimming to avoid getting fungus or warts.

Regularly trim your toenails in order to prevent them from curling back into the skin, which could become infected if left untreated. If needed more urgently, use a nail file instead of nail clippers, as these tend not to be sharp enough for this task. Clean underneath toenails using an orange stick or cotton swab soaked with hydrogen peroxide.   

Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

Monitor your blood sugar levels daily with a glucose meter. If they are high (or too low), adjust your diet and/or insulin doses as needed to bring levels back down so you do not get cuts or sores.

Engage in Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial for improving insulin sensitivity, blood circulation, and managing diabetes better. This will prevent complications like foot ulcers and amputation.

Opt for exercises that match your fitness level and consider low-impact options such as walking or swimming, which provide excellent cardiovascular benefits without putting excessive strain on your body.

Avoid Barefoot Walking

For proper foot care and health, it's not recommended to walk barefoot around the household, including inside bathrooms, so you don't cut yourself on anything sharp such as glass, or metal objects lying around loose.

Avoid standing barefoot for long periods, especially if your job requires this. Use a footrest when sitting down at work or home so that you don't have excess pressure on the soles of your feet due to gravity pulling them down while seated for prolonged amounts of time. 

Check Your Feet Daily

Check your feet on a daily basis for any signs of discoloration, swelling, or redness, in particular around the toes and feet. If found to be abnormal, seek medical advice immediately.

Don't Smoke

People with diabetes often develop wound-prone skin. Diabetics smoking decreases their chance of wound healing and the risk of wound infection. Infected wounds can increase an individual's blood sugar level, which will make it more difficult for them to manage their diabetes or heal their wounds.

How Do You Treat a Cut On a Diabetic Foot?

Here are some basic steps on how to treat a wound on a diabetic foot:

  • Wash hands before touching or cleaning the cut/wound with soap & warm water or antiseptic cleaner.
  • Clean the foot thoroughly to avoid infection.  Use soap and water or an antibacterial solution, depending on what's available in your household. If you have soapy water, make sure it is not too sudsy as that can clog pores and cause a hotbed for bacteria growth.
  • Dry the affected area gently but completely with a clean towel. Be careful not to pull the skin around the wound when drying off blood/secretions which may contain dirt particles from the outside world (which could lead to further infection).
  • Cover the open wound with a dry non-stick dressing, sterile gauze, and tape or adhesive strip.
  • Keep your blood glucose levels controlled heal faster and prevent possible infections.
  • Make sure to check on your wound daily, clean and replace the bandages.
Nurse Treating A Foot With Bandage

Which Ointment Is Best for a Diabetic Wound?

Hydrogen peroxide is used for very small wounds, but it's more important to prevent infection when treating diabetic wounds. For a closed incision or wound, you would want to cover the entire surface of the skin with dry non-stick dressing and secure it with adhesive tape.

For an open wound or ulcer, it's important to cleanse using soap and water as well as to irrigate your wound twice per day in order to maintain a sanitary environment. Wet dressings may be recommended after cleaning which may include sterile gauze/adhesive tapes applied so that the material can absorb any fluids from the surrounding area.

Newer products such as hydrocolloid dressings which are able to create a moist healing environment on surfaces by absorbing wound fluid while protecting the area from infection, dirt, and other external contaminants are available over-the-counter at pharmacies or grocery stores.

If you have a non-healing ulcer after six months of treatment, consult your doctor for further help in promoting wound healing. They may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections.

Here is a list of supplies required when treating sores on diabetics: 

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Non-adherent dressings (i.e., Adaptic, Mefix)
  • Wet non-adherent dressing
  • Dry non-stick dressing
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs
  • Gauze pads: regular and compression
  • Gauze roll bandages/tubular gauzes
  • Tape (paper tape, transparent adhesive film)
  • Scissors

Conclusion

Healing diabetic foot wounds is a comprehensive process that involves a combination of proper wound care, the use of effective products, and professional medical guidance. By adopting these recommendations, individuals with diabetes can enhance their chances of a successful and speedy recovery, minimizing the risk of complications associated with foot wounds. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice tailored to your specific condition.

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. University of Michigan Health Frequently Asked Questions: Diabetic Foot Ulcers
  2. National Library of Medicine Choice of wound care in diabetic foot ulcer: A practical approach
  3. APMA Diabetic Wound Care

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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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