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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes and Wounds: Caring for Sores

Avoid amputation with the prevention and early treatment of skin sores.


Your doctor will know the proper way to clean and treat the wound. He may prescribe a cream to use at home.

If you develop a foot ulcer, the doctor will probably have to clean it out. He may call this process debridement. Then he’ll bandage it if it needs it, Guzman says.

In recent years, cutting-edge treatments like stem cells and growth factors have been used to treat foot ulcers. “These are no longer extreme measures,” Brem says.

You should also keep weight off of your foot as you heal. There are different types of casts or boots the doctor can give you to help, Guzman says.

Go With a Preventive Defense

Your best bet to avoid sores is to keep your feet healthy. Here's how:

  • Check your feet daily. If you've lost feeling in your feet, look to see if something is wrong. It’s hard for many people to inspect the bottoms of their feet even if they use a mirror, Guzman says. Ask a spouse or friend to help you. 
  • Wash them well. When you shower, soap your feet with warm water and fully dry them, even between the toes. Moisture that gets trapped there can be harmful. Use lotion or cream to keep skin from drying or cracking, which can cause sores. “Treat your skin as the most important organ in the body,” Brem says.
  • Dress for comfort. Keep your feet cushioned with soft socks and comfy footwear. Avoid high heels and pointy, narrow styles, which can harm your feet. Your doctor may prescribe special shoes if you need them. “Shoes are extremely important,” Brem says. “Something like [sneakers] can be the difference between a significant ulcer and not. You need proper padding.”
  • Trim your toenails. People with diabetes should see a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in foot care. Ask him if he should cut your toenails to prevent injury. This is common for people who have neuropathy or who’ve had foot ulcers before. “Only have an expert clip your nails if you have diabetes,” Brem says. “Never go to a salon.” 

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Reviewed on December 21, 2015

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