Wounds are a part of life. They are most often not very serious and can be treated quite easily at home. For most people they will heal up and you will move on with your life. However, people with diabetes are at more of a risk of developing further complications from sores—especially on your feet. It’s extremely important to make sure they heal completely.
What is a Wound?
The term refers to injuries that involve a break in bodily tissue, most often the skin. They are very common, and almost everyone will experience one at some point in their lives. Falls, accidents with sharp tools (knives, saws, etc.), and car accidents can all cause breaks in the skin that bleed and are at risk for infection.
There are five types that range in severity and amount of blood loss. They are:
- abrasions (a scrape or road rash, not a lot of bleeding)
- incisions (made with sharp tools, usually experience a large amount of bleeding)
- lacerations (deep cuts, bleed very quickly)
- punctures (involves something sharp and pointy, may not bleed a lot but can cause damage to internal organs)
- avulsions (very violent, heavy bleeding)
Taking Care of an Open Sore
If your wound is minor and the bleeding stops within 20 minutes or so, you can treat it at home. The first thing you must do is to wash it and remove any debris that may still be inside. You can apply an antibiotic ointment that will inhibit bacterial growth. Make sure you bandage it snugly to control the bleeding, but not so tightly that you lose circulation.
Focus on keeping the sore clean and dry for at least 5 days. You will need to wash and reapply new bandages every day. In certain cases, the lesion may be minor enough that it doesn’t even require a bandage at all. In order to ease your pain, you can use ice therapy to control pain or swelling, or (after checking with a doctor) there are over-the-counter medications that you can take to help with discomfort.
Diabetic Wound Care
If you have diabetes, you have more potential risks to deal with. First of all, if the sore is on your foot you might not even notice until it’s gotten worse. Peripheral neuropathy can cause you to lose feeling in your limbs, which is why daily foot checks are so important. You could step on something sharp and not even feel a thing. You may also deal with decreased blood flow to your limbs (poor circulation). This makes proper healing more difficult.
If you notice that you have an open sore on your foot, wash with plain warm water, put a triple antibiotic cream on it, and apply a light gauze covering. Do not, under any circumstances, put pressure on it. Keep an eye on it over the next day or two. If it doesn’t appear to be healing come and see us right away. Remember that there is no such thing as “just a little cut” when it comes to diabetes.
Seeking Medical Help
If you are worried about a sore that won’t heal, or just have a question regarding further care, please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment at our three office locations in Massachusetts: Lowell, Haverhill, and North Andover.