Having diabetes can be very time and energy-consuming with regular doctors visits, medications, labs, and blood sugar checks. The last thing that any diabetic wants to see is a sore on their foot. The experience can be very scary with all of the what-ifs, especially if you watched a family member or friend struggle with this same thing, Having diabetes makes you much higher risk for a special kind of sore called an ulcer on your feet. Having an ulcer on your foot increases your risk of infection, hospitalization, and worst-case scenario amputation.
It is important if you are diabetic, and notice a sore on your feet during your daily foot checks, that you act quickly and immediately to prevent infection, and to heal this sore as fast as possible. These are my tips, as a foot doctor who deals with diabetic patients with a sore on their feet daily.
1. Do not soak the sore
Many people instinctively want to soak a sore on their foot, if they have diabetes. For this sore, this is one of the worst things you can do. Water from a faucet contains many types of bacteria, other types of organisms, and many kinds of chemicals, none of which you want in a sore. Unfortunately, many of my patients who were diabetic and were soaking a sore on their foot for days, even weeks, ended up with gangrene which did cause amputation of the affected toe. Do not soak the sore.
2. Do not get the sore wet with showering or bathing.
Also, do not get the sore wet when in the shower or bathing. For the reasons stated above. In addition tap water not being good for a sore on your foot, when you shower, all of the dirt, bacteria, and debris from your body when you bathe is taken downwards and can end up in your sore, causing an infection. If you bathe, dirty bath water getting into the sore on your foot can also increase your risk of infection.
3, Apply a clean, dry bandaid or dressing to the sore
A sore on the foot of a diabetic needs to be covered unless you are directed to do otherwise by your foot doctor or podiatrist. Cover this sore with a clean bandaid. If it is larger than a bandaid, gauze, and tape can be used.
4. Call your foot doctor immediately
A diabetic with a sore on their feet is at minimum an urgent concern. Please, as soon as you notice a sore on your foot, call your foot doctor immediately. They should be able to take you in quickly. Do not try any home remedies to clean the wound, or to heal the wound faster. Every day that care is delayed, and this sore stays open, your risk for infection goes up and up. This is why it is so important to have a foot doctor on standby that you have already seen, but if you haven't, now is the time to find one ASAP.
5. Change the bandage on the sore daily
If it takes longer than 24 hours to get an appointment with a foot doctor or podiatrist, it is important to change the bandage for the sore on your foot at least daily. If you notice this sore on your toe is making a lot of drainage that is soaking through the bandage, you'll have to change the bandage more often. Once you visit your foot doctor, they will advise you on how often the bandage should be changed.
6. Never touch this sore with your bare hands
Our hands unfortunately carry a lot of bacteria, viruses, and fungi as well. If you have a sore on your feet as a diabetic and need to change the bandage, make sure that your hands are clean. Wash them before and after coming in contact with your bandage. Buying a box of gloves and using them when you have to change this bandage is even better.
7. Keep an eye out for signs of infection
Another reason why it is important to change the bandage at least daily before your visit with your foot doctor is so that you can look for changes to the sore on your foot, signs of infection, or gangrene. Common signs of infection are redness, yellow or green pus, increased pain, swelling, the area with the sore feels hot, and also you experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. Signs of gangrene are a very dark red, to dark purple or black look to the skin, which gets worse. If you start to notice any of these signs or symptoms while trying to get an appointment with a foot doctor, or while under their care, call their office immediately. If you can't get a hold of them, report to the ER.
A sore on the foot of a diabetic can be a devastating finding. But all is not lost, don't give up hope. Early treatment and management by a foot doctor plus proper wound care by you the patient, as instructed by your foot doctor is key to reducing your risk of serious infection or amputation.
Schedule Your Appointment At Direct Podiatry Arizona
Are you looking for a foot doctor that does wound care in Phoenix? My name is Dr. Tarr, I am board certified foot doctor, and also the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe. To view my available appointment times, click here.