Discharge Instructions for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Discharge Instructions for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

You have been diagnosed with foot ulcers related to diabetes, a disease that increases your chances of developing foot problems. Any minor problem can become infected. Infections can become life-threatening if they are not treated. Infections in the bones can also travel throughout your foot and up your leg.

Your doctor wants you to practice good diabetic foot care. Along with your doctor’s care, this can ensure that hot spots, small cracks, or sores are treated before they get infected. If infection is already present, medications may be prescribed. Follow the tips on this sheet to take better care of your feet.

After Surgery

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 doctor or nurse.

  • 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 

  • 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 doctor 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.

Foot Care

  • 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 doctor about how to treat it.

  • Dust your feet with nonmedicated powder before putting on shoes, socks, or stockings. This will help keep them dry.

  • Talk to your doctor 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 doctor’s instructions about walking and other activity. There may be some restrictions depending on the condition of your feet.

  • Take all medications exactly as directed.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff. Your doctor may refer you to a special wound-care center for treatment.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 101.0°F

  • 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