Wound Care for Foot Ulcers

Wound Care for Foot Ulcers
by: Kent Smith

Foot ulcers are open sores or wounds on the feet that can be very shallow or very deep. They are associated with diabetics who suffer from diabetic foot (a condition caused by decreased sensation and poor circulation in the lower limbs), but they can also form on the foot of a healthy person. They tend to form over previous abrasions, callus foot tissue or foot deformities including but not limited to foot injury, calluses, corns, bunions, hammertoe and claw toe.

It is important to treat foot ulcers promptly so that the infection does not spread into the bone or bloodstream. In worst case scenarios (especially among diabetics and the elderly), foot ulcers are precursors to amputation.

The first step to treating a foot ulcer is to remove dead or infected skin from the wound. If the ulcer is full of pus or slough (a mass of dead tissue), it should be gently washed with a saline solution. Any attempt at debridement (a process by which dead or infected tissue is removed) should be left to a doctor in order to avoid excess bleeding or additional injury to the foot.

Cultures should be taken from the pus or slough as well as from deep tissue samples in order to determine the nature of the infection. X-rays of the foot may be necessary to check bone health.

Ulcers that have been cleansed should be wrapped in a non-adhesive bandage. The patient will need to wear shoes that can accommodate this bandage. Often orthotics (orthopedic insoles) that are designed to accommodate the specific placement of ulcers on a patient’s foot can be very helpful in helping an ulcer to heal (and preventing a new ulcer from forming in the future. For example, a patient with a foot ulcer on his heel may wear orthotics on his ankle in order to relieve pressure on the heel.

A person regularly afflicted by foot ulcers (or by minor foot injuries and deformities such as calluses, corns, hammertoe, etc.) should look for shoes that are made out of soft leather. Avoid excess stitching, especially around the tops of the toes. A toe box that is wide and deep enough to accommodate foot deformities or prevent excess friction is also very important. Remember: bandaged feet should never be forced into shoes that are too small or don’t fit. Choose shoes that can accommodate your feet – whatever their stage of healing.

 

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located 2 Ryant Blvd (on US27) can be reached 314-9255(walk).  Check us out at www.gentlefootcarecenter.com

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