Discharge Instructions for Diabetic Foot Ulcers
You have been diagnosed with foot ulcers related to diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that makes it very hard to control your blood sugar. One dangerous complication of diabetes is a higher risk of developing serious foot problems. Wounds, even minor ones, can easily become infected when you have diabetes. These infections can become life-threatening if they aren't treated. Infections that settle in the bones can also spread throughout your foot and leg, destroying bone as they travel.
Your healthcare provider wants you to practice good diabetic foot care. This can help make sure that hot spots, small cracks, or sores are treated before they get infected. If infection is already present, medicines may be prescribed. Follow the tips on this sheet to take better care of your feet.
If you have had surgery, change your dressings every 12 hours to prevent infection. Regular wound care helps keep your foot free of infection and aids healing:
- Wash your hands.
- Put on disposable gloves if your foot is infected.
- Gently remove the old dressing and discard it in a plastic bag.
- Take off the gloves.
- Wash your hands again.
- Put on new gloves.
- Clean and dress the wound as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Discard any used materials or trash in a plastic bag before placing in a trash can.
- Dispose of sharp objects in specially designated sharps containers.
Daily foot check
Here is what you can do:
- With a mirror, look at the bottom of your feet every day. This way, you can catch small skin changes before they turn into bigger problems, such as ulcers, or before they become infected.
- Call your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of the following: hot spots, red streaks, swelling, cracks, sores, injuries, or foreign objects embedded in your foot.
- Before putting on shoes, check the soles and insides for pebbles or splinters. Remove these as they could break the skin or put added pressure on your feet.
Suggestions include the following:
- Wash your feet every day; use lukewarm (not hot) water and mild soap. Make sure to wash between your toes.
- Use a soft towel to dry your feet well, especially between the toes. Pat gently; don't rub.
- Apply a cream or lanolin lotion, especially on the heels, to keep the skin smooth. If it is cracked, talk to your healthcare provider about how to treat it. Do not apply lotion between the toes as this can lead to fungal infections.
- Dust your feet with nonmedicated powder before putting on shoes, socks, or stockings. This will help keep them dry.
- Before putting on your shoes, check your socks to make sure they are not bunched up. Also make sure they don't have folds or creases in them. Even little bumps created by bunched socks can cause a serious foot wound.
- Talk to your healthcare provider before treating calluses, corns, or bunions.
- To prevent ingrown toenails, cut toenails straight across. Try soaking your toenails in warm water to soften them before cutting.
- Try to keep your feet from getting too hot or too cold.
- Don't go barefoot.
- Avoid rough surfaces or surfaces with sharp objects.
- Don't wear shoes that are too tight or uncomfortable.
- Don't test the temperature of the bathtub water with your feet if you have diminished sensation.
- Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about walking and other activity. There may be some restrictions depending on the condition of your feet. You may need special shoes or inserts to take the pressure off the ulcers.
- Take all medicines exactly as directed.
Your healthcare provider may refer you to a special wound-care center for treatment.
When to call your healthcare provider
Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following:
- Fever above 101?F (38.3?C)
- Redness, swelling, or pain in the foot that doesn't go away
- Numbness or tingling in any part of your foot
- Chills, light-headedness, or fainting
- Odor from wounds or swollen areas