Diabetic ulcers occur in approximately 15% of diabetic patients. If treated properly, patients can avoid amputation, which affects about 1 in 5 patients who develop an ulcer.

Diabetic ulcers are most commonly found on the feet, but they can develop on the legs, hands or in folds of skin on the stomach. Ulcers are open sores (wounds) on the skin that haven’t healed properly. Diabetes raises the odds of getting an ulcer due to high blood sugar, which can, over time, cause damage to nerves and blood vessels, lessening blood flow and making it more difficult for sores and cuts to heal.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Drainage from foot, or sore, that might stain clothing like socks or shoes
  • Swelling
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Odor
  • Black tissue around wound/sore

Because of the damage caused to nerves, you might not feel as much pain or other symptoms of an ulcer or infection.

Ways to prevent ulcers:

  • Keep your blood sugar in control
  • Check skin daily, paying close attention to your feet, and look for:
    • Blisters
    • Cracks
    • Cuts
    • Thick calluses
    • Discoloration, such as redness or white spots
    • Sores

Smoking can increase your chances of getting an ulcer, due to the damaging affects smoking has on your blood vessels, blood flow and healing process.

Treating ulcers requires the use of dressings and topical medications. While skin substitutes can be highly effective in healing ulcers, treatments typically range from normal saline to growth factors and dressings.

Patients who develop ulcers should seek immediate attention from a specialist.

If you’re a healthcare provider looking to refer a patient, check out our referral process and how we’re able to assess and create a care plan in minutes.