A diabetic foot ulcer is a critical skin breakdown, opening the door to bacterial infection and potential amputation of the affected foot. Ulcers occur in this area because the feet are located away from the heart. The feet are the last to receive blood nutrients and the first to suffer from impaired blood circulation. The decreased blood distribution to the foot results in a slow healing process and low sensitivity. According to the Center for disease control, diabetic foot ulcers are responsible for more hospitalizations than any other complication associated with diabetes. Six percent of diabetic patients that develop a foot ulcer will become hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related development. Sadly, this illness is the number one cause of non-traumatic lower body limb amputations, and generally, 14 to 24 percent of patients with diabetes who develop a foot ulcer will have an amputation. On a good note, and thanks to much research, this type of condition is preventable and treatable.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an excellent form of treatment for diabetic foot ulcers because it improves tissue oxygenation by raising the amount of oxygen dissolved into the plasma (hypoxia), therefore stimulating the healing process of continuous diabetic ulcers. By increasing the oxygen into the blood, new blood vessels can develop in the affected areas, therefore, improving the effectiveness of antibiotics and the bodies protective system response and immune system response. It’s also important to note that the effects of HBOT result only from inhaling 100 percent pure oxygen via a chamber and not by directly applying oxygen to the wound itself.
It’s imperative to care for your feet as a person with diabetes. As per the Center for Disease control, below are a few tips to follow to ensure proper daily care and to avoid foot ulcers.
1. Look for cuts, cracks, sores, red spots, swelling, infected toenails, splinters, blisters, and calluses on the feet each day. Call your doctor if such wounds do not heal after one day.
2. If you have corns and calluses, ask your doctor or podiatrist about the best way to care for them.
3. Wash your feet in warm—not hot—water, and dry them thoroughly.
4. Cut your toenails once a week or when needed. Cut toenails when they are soft from washing. Cut them to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board.
5. Rub lotion on the tops and bottoms of feet—but not between the toes—to prevent cracking and drying.
6. Wear stockings or socks to avoid blisters and sores.
7. Wear clean, lightly padded socks that fit well. Seamless socks are best.
8. Wear shoes that fit well. Break in new shoes slowly, by wearing them 1 to 2 hours each day for a week to 2 weeks.
9. Always wear shoes or slippers, because when you are barefoot, it is easy to step on something and hurt your feet.
10. Protect your feet from extreme heat and cold.
11. When sitting, keep the blood flowing to your lower limbs by propping your feet up and moving your toes and ankles for a few minutes at a time.
12. Avoid smoking, which reduces blood flow to the feet.
13. Keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control by eating healthy foods, staying active, and taking your diabetes medicines.
Dr. Elena Eustache is a specialist in Neurofeedback Therapy, with a Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Dr. Eustache helps her patients reach their full potential so they can live the life they have always dreamed. For more information please visit www.EustacheInstitute.com. You can also find Dr. Elena Eustache on Instagram and Facebook.