How does diabetes relate to wound care?

Diabetes affects nearly 18 million Americans. Of those, approximately 15 percent develop a foot ulcer. In fact, foot ulcers are the most common wounds for this patient population.

What causes diabetes-related wounds?

Poor circulation, high blood sugar and nerve damage can all cause diabetic wounds to develop and these and other factors can also affect healing.

Unfortunately, when diabetics develop a wound, it can be slow to heal and may even worsen rapidly. That’s why it’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle and control your blood sugar. And, if you do develop a wound, monitor it closely and seek medical attention.

I have diabetes. What can I do to avoid wounds or improve healing?

The most important factor is to control your blood sugar levels. In addition, you should:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Maintaining good nutrition helps to regulate your blood sugar levels. A healthy diet can also provide the vitamins and nutrients needed in the healing process.
  • Get regular exercise. Chronic inflammation is a common symptom in diabetes but you can reduce chronic inflammation by engaging in regular aerobic exercise. Exercise lowers the blood sugar and also helps with weight management, another factor in keeping your glucose levels under control.
  • Stop smoking. Quitting smoking can help improve your body’s circulation and overall health, which can aid in the healing of existing wounds and prevention of wound development. For help quitting, talk your health care provider about a smoking cessation program that’s right for you.
  • Be aware of any changes in your body. This is especially important if you have experienced diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. Monitor for any signs of infection and regularly check your body for pressure points or areas where wounds can develop.
  • Keep pressure off wounds. If you do have a wound, it’s important to seek medical attention and keep the pressure off the wound to aid in its healing.