Following any wound, the body's immune system kicks into action. It sends blood clotting factors and other blood products to repair the injury and white blood cells to stop infections from taking hold. However, for a person with diabetes, the wound healing process is often slower.
Poor circulation leads to decreased blood flow and oxygen to the lesion or abrasion, and if nerves are affected, a person cannot feel a developing wound or blister. But there is some good news. There are steps you can take to improve the diabetic wound healing process.
Following are some of the most important do’s of diabetic wound care, which can promote faster wound healing and prevent possible problems from accelerating.
If you have a diabetic wound on a foot, you may have to practise offloading, reducing, redistributing, or removing forces that could negatively impact the wound. In other words, stay off your feet to prevent the damage from getting worse.
If you have a diabetic leg wound, your doctor or podiatrist may prescribe a total contact cast to redistribute pressure evenly around the limb. Other alternatives include wearing a cast walker or healing sandal. Without them, wound healing may be significantly slower.
Vigilance pays off. Check your feet daily, even if they feel fine. Look for any signs of corns, calluses, blisters, scrapes, cuts, bruises and redness. Foot issues are one of the principal reasons many people with diabetes end up in a hospital.
Spotting and treating problems early on can stop them from becoming major health concerns. Make checking your feet a part of your daily routine, such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night. If you notice cuts that don't appear to be healing well, contact your doctor as soon as you can.
To promote faster wound healing, you need to pay attention to dressings and bandages. Some wounds, especially deep injuries, are moist and can fill up with bodily fluids within hours, soaking bandages. The liquids can easily acquire bacteria and other germs, potentially leading to an infection. Therefore, regularly changing bandages, especially if they're soaked through, can reduce the infection risk.
Your healthcare provider will advise you on how often your dressings and bandages should be changed.
Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.
As tempting as it may be, never try to scrape off dead skin from a wound. You could easily damage a blood vessel and make matters worse. Always consult a medical professional and let them perform any required procedure such as debridement. This is where nonviable tissues (infected, dead or damaged tissues) are surgically removed with the use of special scissors and a scalpel.
Walking barefoot is fine for perfectly healthy individuals, but for people with diabetes, it's inviting trouble. The reason is that a loss of sensation in the feet makes it easy to overlook minor injuries such as cuts and abrasions, which could worsen and become infected. One sharp pebble or small splinter could be all it takes to start a diabetic foot ulcer. Therefore, never go barefoot outside or even around the house. Wear socks, comfortable slippers and shoes.
According to the CDC, smoking can damage blood vessels by increasing the build-up of a fatty, waxy substance known as plaque. It restricts the flow of oxygen-rich blood cells to your feet, hampering the body's ability to fight infections.
Obviously, you want to get back to 100% as quickly as possible, so don't forget all the other factors that can promote faster diabetic wound healing. Try to ensure your blood sugars are within target range and eat a nutritious diet that contains sufficient vitamins, proteins, calories and minerals. This includes foods containing zinc and vitamin C.
If you are concerned about diabetic wounds, Dr Goke Akinwande and his team at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy are here to help. They specialize in treating diabetic wounds and will be able to see you at one of their three convenient Missouri locations. They can also advise you on how to look after your injury to promote fast healing.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call MINT today or book an appointment online.