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Diabetic foot ulcer
A diabetic foot ulcer is a serious wound. It requires proper care and attention to avoid infection, which can lead to a stay in the hospital, and in severe cases, amputation.

There are two main causes of diabetic foot ulcers:

  1. Neuropathy (noo-ROP-a-thee) , which is nerve damage that leads to a loss of feeling. Without feeling in your feet, you may not notice when you hurt your foot, which may result in your injury going untreated. Walking on an untreated injury is the most common cause of diabetic foot ulcers.
  2. Poor circulation in your legs and feet can affect very small blood vessels that feed the skin. The lack of healthy blood flow may lead to poor skin repair, allowing the skin to break down and not heal properly, resulting in a sore.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Because diabetic foot ulcers are quite often painless, it is not unusual for people to have had a wound for a while before going to the doctor. This can lead to more complications, because people with diabetes are prone to infections of the ulcer and the surrounding skin (cellulitis).

Diabetic foot ulcers are rated between 0 and 3, depending on their severity:

                        0. At risk foot with no ulcer
                        1. Shallow ulcer with no infection
                        2. Deep ulcer, exposing tendons and joints
                        3. Extensive ulcer or abscesses

What are the treatments for diabetic foot ulcer?
The standard treatment for a diabetic foot ulcer is often a mix of cleaning and removing dead tissue from the wound (debridement), the application of moist dressings, and rest. Antibiotics will be prescribed if there is an infection. The ulcer must be protected from further injury until it heals. This may include keeping weight off the feet until the wound is healed. Real effort must be made to avoid another ulcer by wearing correct footwear and frequently examining the skin. Although healing of wound may take time, lack of healing progress after 3-4 weeks (ulcer is not decreasing in size or moving towards closure) is a sign that the current treatment regimen is not working, and treatment with Apligraf® should be considered.

Apligraf®, when combined with standard treatment, has been shown to heal more diabetic foot ulcer. Of course, as with any medical condition, it is better to prevent a diabetic foot ulcer than to have to treat one. To learn more about prevention, click here.

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To discover more resources for diabetes and diabetic foot ulcers, click here.

References:

1. American Diabetes Association

2. Ramsey SD, Newton K, Blough D, et al. Incidence, outcomes, and cost of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1999;22:382-387.

3. Falanga V, Sabolinski ML. A bilayered living skin construct (Apligraf®) accelerates complete closure of hard-to-heal venous ulcers. Wound Repair Regen. 1999;7:201-207.

4. Veves A, Falanga V, et al. Graftskin, a human skin equivalent, is effective in management of non-infected neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetes Care.
2001;24:290-295.

Diabetic Foot Ulcer Fast Facts