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Diabetic Foot Ulcers


A diabetic foot ulcer is a serious wound that develops from a cut or scratch on your foot. You may not be able to feel a cut or scratch because of nerve and blood vessel damage. This damage is caused by long-term high blood sugar levels.

Foot Ulcers


Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You can see bone through your ulcer.

  • You see black or dead tissue in or around your ulcer.

  • Your foot ulcer has a bad smell or is draining pus.

  • Your foot becomes red, warm, and swollen.

  • Your ulcer becomes bigger, deeper, or does not heal.

  • Your feet become numb, weak, or hard to move.

  • You feel pain in a foot that used to have little or no feeling.

  • You have a fever or chills.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.

  • Growth factors help increase cell repair so you can heal. Growth factor may be a gel that is put directly on your ulcer.

  • Vasodilators help widen your blood vessels and improve blood flow.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your wound as directed:

Keep your wound clean and cover it with a nonstick bandage. You may need to cover your wound with a plastic bag while you bathe. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions on bathing until your foot heals.

Diabetic foot care:

Good foot care may help prevent ulcers, or keep them from getting worse. You may need to do any of the following:

  • Check your feet each day. Look at your whole foot, including the bottom, and between and under your toes. Check for wounds, corns, and calluses. The skin on your feet may be shiny, tight, or darker than normal. Your feet may also be cold and pale. Feel your feet by running your hands along the tops, bottoms, sides, and between your toes. Redness, swelling, and warmth are signs of blood flow problems that can lead to a foot ulcer. Do not try to remove corns or calluses yourself.

  • Wash your feet each day with soap and warm water. Do not use hot water, because this can injure your foot. Dry your feet gently with a towel after you wash them. Dry between and under your toes.

  • Apply lotion or a moisturizer on your dry feet. Ask your healthcare provider what lotions are best to use. Do not put lotion or moisturizer between your toes.

  • Cut your toenails correctly. File or cut your toenails straight across. Use a soft brush to clean around your toenails. If your toenails are very thick, you may need to have a healthcare provider or specialist cut them.

  • Protect your feet. Do not walk barefoot or wear your shoes without socks. Check your shoes for rocks or other objects that can hurt your feet. Wear cotton socks to help keep your feet dry. Wear socks without toe seams, or wear them with the seams inside out. Change your socks each day. Do not wear socks that are dirty or damp.

  • Wear shoes that fit well. Wear shoes that do not rub against any area of your feet. Your shoes should be ½ to ¾ inch (1 to 2 centimeters) longer than your feet. Your shoes should also have extra space around the widest part of your feet. Walking or athletic shoes with laces or straps that adjust are best. Ask your healthcare provider for help to choose shoes that fit you best. Ask him if you need to wear an insert, orthotic, or bandage on your feet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or foot specialist as directed:

You may need to return often to have your wound checked. Your wound may be measured to see if it is getting smaller. Bring any offloading devices or footwear to your follow-up visits so your healthcare provider or specialist can check them. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.