Diabetes and Wound Healing
Diabetes affects the body in many ways and can lead to many complications if the sugar levels are not controlled. Wound healing also slows down as a result of it. But how are diabetes and wound healing related? Most people are aware that wound healing is delayed in a person who has diabetes. But what are causes or factors responsible for it? Read on to know more about diabetes related health complications and how it affects wound healing.
The most common complications of diabetes which are responsible for delayed wound healing are:
Nerve damage: Diabetes affects the nerves and their functioning. This condition is called neuropathy. This leads to loss of sensation in the feet. Patients with diabetic neuropathy would not be able to feel any sensation in their feet or legs and there is a high chance of cuts or bruises going undetected. Continued negligence can lead to diabetic foot ulcers.
Artery problems: Arteries play a very important role in blood circulation as they carry blood pumped by the heart to all the body parts. Diabetics carry the risk of developing Peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition causes narrowing down or blockage of the blood vessels in the legs due to fatty deposits. This results in lesser blood flow to your legs and feet.
Immune system problems
: Diabetes reduces the body’s natural ability to fight infections. This also delays the wound healing process and small cuts or bruises could also take a long time to heal.
How does diabetes affect or delay wound healing?
Uncontrolled diabetes can delay wound healing due to different factors, some of which include:
Infections & skin breaks: Diabetics with a history of poor blood sugar control are more likely to be affected by skin problems including fungal or yeast infections, bacterial infections, itching and dry skin.
Difficulty fighting infection: The body’s immune system naturally fights infection. But in people with diabetes, the body’s natural defence mechanism and immune system function is impaired. Small cuts or scrapes can turn into infected sores.
Lack of feeling or sensation: Nerve damage is responsible for this condition and it mainly affects the feet and legs of a person with diabetes. In most cases, diabetics with nerve damage fail to notice or feel any small cuts or wounds on their feet. When neglected, these cuts get infected and cause blisters and sores. Also, this puts extra pressure on the pressure points while walking as the person does not feel a thing.
: Diabetics carry a risk of developing atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) at a younger age when compared to normal people. This leads to poor blood flow to the legs and feet which in turn delays
How can you prevent complications?
Diabetes and wound healing often throw up some difficult challenges. The first and foremost step to prevent diabetes related complications is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. If you have any other health problems like high blood pressure or cholesterol then they should also be kept in check.
Have regular check-ups and look out for early signs and symptoms of infections or complications.
How can you avoid wounds?
Now that you know about diabetes and wound healing, follow the simple steps mentioned below to avoid wounds.
Check your feet daily: Examine your feet at least once every day. If you have trouble doing so then take the help of a family member or a visiting nurse. If you notice any skin breaks or calluses then tell your doctor about it. Do not neglect or try any self-medication.
Wear shoes that fit comfortably: Avoid tight-fitting shoes as they can put extra pressure on your feet. You could also use special shoes that are designed for comfort. Your doctor or podiatrist could guide you in buying these shoes.
Prevent dry skin: Apply a mild, non-scented moisturizer on your feet and legs after washing. Use warm or clod water to wash your feet. Avoid using hot water as it dries out the skin. Make sure that you pat dry your feet with a towel. Wipe out any moisture or water that is left in between the toes as excess moisture can lead to fungal or yeast infections.
Seek treatment for calluses
: Calluses can occur when excess pressure is applied on the feet. If neglected, they can turn into ulcers.
- Do not try to cut them or treat them on your own.
- Do not use any chemicals to remove them.
- Use a pumice stone everyday on wet skin. This will take away the dead skin and also prevent the formation of calluses.
- If you have trouble in taking care of your feet due to poor eyesight or any problem, then take the help of a doctor, nurse or a podiatrist to help you.
Seek treatment for foot ulcers
: Sores or ulcers can occur anywhere on your feet. If you notice any type of ulcer, blister or callus, see your doctor immediately. Remember that timely treatment can prevent the condition from worsening.
Now that you know all about diabetes and wound healing, take all the necessary precautions and and never neglect any infection or wound. Remember that timely detection and treatment of wounds and infections can help you lead a normal and healthy life.