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Diabetic Foot Ulcers

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound that can occur in patients with diabetes and is commonly located on the bottom of the foot. Ulcers that become infected, result in most patients having to be hospitalized, increase the risk of potential lower extremity amputation and in extreme cases, may cause death.

More than 25 million people in the United States are estimated to have diabetes mellitus (DM). Of those 25 million, 15–25% will develop a diabetic foot ulcer during their lifetime.

Treatment Approach

The primary goal in the treatment of foot ulcers is to obtain healing as soon as possible. The faster the healing, the less chance for an infection.

Treatment of a diabetic foot ulcer includes:

  • Prevention of infection by:
    • Keeping blood glucose levels under control
    • Keeping the ulcer clean and bandaged
    • Cleansing the wound daily, using a wound dressing or bandage; and avoiding walking barefoot
  • Taking the pressure off the area, called “off-loading,”
  • Removing dead skin and tissue, called “debridement,”
  • Applying medication or dressings to the ulcer
  • Managing blood glucose and other health problems

Not all ulcers are infected; however, if your podiatrist diagnoses an infection, antibiotics, wound care, and possibly hospitalization will be necessary.