If you’re diabetic and have sores on your hands, feet, or other parts of your body, those sores may refuse to heal and become chronic. Diabetes can damage both the blood vessels and nerves in the extremities, resulting in sores that don’t heal properly and are harder to detect. Untreated sores can turn into ulcers as the damage slowly gets worse. They can also result in an infection that leads to gangrene and requires amputation.
Chronic sores are very serious, but they are treatable with the proper medical care. Diabetic wound care clinics specialize in helping patients manage this part of their diabetic condition.
Signs You Might Need Diabetic Wound Care
There are many signs you can look for that might indicate your wound is not healing properly and may need special treatment. You can look for such treatment at https://woundcareoc.com/. Think about whether the following applies to your diabetic sores:
- Inflammation: You have redness and swelling around the sore that simply won’t go away or return after the initial healing process. This could be an early sign of infection, tissue damage, or another problem.
- Signs of infection: If you have any signs of infection, you want to see a medical professional right away. These signs include hot or painful sores, pus or other liquids emanating from the area, abnormal discoloration, and a bad odor.
- Chronic, unhealing wounds: If your wounds don’t seem to have healed at all after about a month or are not fully healed after about four months, your wounds are chronic and may need medical attention to start the healing process.
Prepare for a Visit to the Clinic
You should prepare to tell your doctor about your wounds and diabetes. Your diabetic wound care doctor will then talk to you about why your wounds might not be healing properly, offer treatment options, and explain how to take care of your wounds at home.
Reasons You Might Have Poorly Healing Wounds
Your doctor will best identify why your wounds might not be healing, but there some common reasons that diabetic patients have chronic wounds. High blood glucose levels can make the blood thicker and affect circulation. Diabetes often also results in a weakened immune system that makes it harder for your body to bring blood healing factors to the wound and fight off infection.
In addition, you might have diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage that will cause loss of feeling in your hands and feet. The neuropathy itself doesn’t slow healing, but it can make it harder to detect a small sore before it turns into a larger wound, and harder to know if you’re doing activities that make the wound worse.
Available Treatments for Your Wounds
Now that you’ve identified whether you have chronic sores and some of the systematic reasons they might keep happening, you’re probably wondering what a diabetic wound care specialist can do to help. Here are some of the options you might want to discuss with your doctor:
- Cleaning and dressings: This is the first level of diabetic wound care. The clinic will clean your wound with a saline solution and cover it with a dressing. Though it sounds simple, it can greatly help with the healing process. The dressing applied might also contain growth factors to help healing.
- Debridement: In this process, specialists will use tweezers or other methods to remove dead or inflamed tissue from your sores. You will receive local anesthesia or pain killers if needed.
- Antibiotics: If you have an infection, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or an antibiotic ointment. The ointment can be applied directly to the wound, on the dressings, or with a compress.
- Skin grafts: You might think of burn units when you think of skin grafts. This procedure is more intensive and can get your wounds to start healing if the first three options listed above are not working. Skin grafts involve a surgical procedure to remove skin from one part of the body and place it on another. There are two types of grafts: split-thickness and full-thickness. Split-thickness transplants only the upper layers of skin while full-thickness goes down deeper.
- Negative pressure wound therapy (VAC therapy): In this medical procedure, an airtight dressing is placed over the wound and connects to a pump to suck the fluid out. The resulting negative pressure around the wound aids the healing process.
Your diabetic wound care doctor will provide these treatments in the office and then send you home with instructions on how to better care for your wounds.
Caring For Your Wounds at Home
Of course, after you leave the doctor’s office, you will still need to take care of your sores and prevent more chronic sores. Your doctor will advise you on some of the best practices to stay safe from infection:
- Dressing your wounds: Your diabetic wound care specialist may advise you on how to change your own dressings to speed up healing and how to treat any new wounds as soon as they happen.
- Checking your feet regularly for sores: Since you may not be able to feel them, your specialist might advise on how to check regularly for sores on your feet before they get more serious.
- Taking pressure off the wound: Wounds heal better without pressure on them, but it can be difficult not to apply pressure if you need to walk on your feet. Your doctor can help you figure out ways to keep your wounds protected while you walk.
Diabetic Wound Care is an Invaluable Part of Your Care Team
You might have many specialists in your corner to manage the different aspects of your diabetes. Adding diabetic wound care is an important step to fully managing your condition. A wound care specialist can help you figure out the best ways to take care of your feet and hands and minimize the risk of amputation and other serious complications.
If minimizing your pain, healing your sores, and keeping your mobility are important goals for your diabetes management, a diabetic wound care specialist will be able to help you meet your objectives.