Diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds or sores that can develop in people with diabetes. These open sores may become infected and cause affected individuals to be hospitalized. Diabetic foot ulcers are caused by nerve damage to the legs and feet. If not diagnosed and treated appropriately, diabetic foot ulcers can lead to leg amputation.
Diabetic foot ulcer treatment requires regular cleaning and dressing of the wound to prevent infection. Cleaning includes debridement, which is removing dead tissue to combat infection. If the ulcer is infected, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Applying the FDA-approved medicine Regranex or other topical medicines to the ulcer may speed wound healing.
High blood sugar levels prevent timely wound healing. Your doctor may prescribe insulin injections or adjust your diabetes medicines to better control your blood sugar.
Skin grafting can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers when other treatments don’t work. Bioengineered or human skin grafted onto the foot can speed healing.
Diabetic foot ulcers that don’t heal may be treated with hyperbaric oxygen. With this therapy, patients sit or lie in a chamber filled with pure oxygen, which saturates their blood and spurs the formation of new blood vessels that aid wound healing.
Other treatments for diabetic foot ulcers include using special boots or casts on the foot to relieve pressure and bypass surgery to help blood flow. As a last resort, amputation may be performed to stop the spread of infection from an infected ulcer.