Wounds, or ulcers, are openings in the skin that could have been caused by a cut, scrape, other injury, or prolonged pressure points, for example. Wounds on the bottom of the feet are common amongst those with nerve damage as a result of diabetes. When caught early and dealt with appropriately, wounds can heal. When left ignored, it can take the wrong turn quite rapidly and amputation becomes a real consequence.
Wounds on the bottom of the feet are very different from other parts of the body and so should be treated with respect to this difference. I want to share some knowledge with you so that in case you’re in a pinch and unable to seek immediate medial attention, you’ll have some understanding on caring for your foot wounds.
WOUND CARE PRINCIPLE #1:
“If it’s wet, dry it. If it’s dry, wet it.”
There is a delicate balance in creating the ideal environment for wounds to heal. Wounds that are too wet, noted by a white ring around the wound, should be dried. We call this white ring “maceration” and betadine paint will help dry it up. Once the ring clears up, the wound base should be gently hydrated with a wound gel. Antibiotic ointment is ok in some situations but too much ointment can cause maceration too. VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT SOAK THE FOOT. THIS CAN MAKE THE WOUND WORSE. It’s not necessary to soak the foot with an open wound and this can actually increase the risk of infection. If you’re not sure whether to wet or dry the wound, a dry bandaid is ok until you see your doctor. Keep it covered and clean in the mean time, changing the bandage daily.
WOUND CARE PRINCIPLE #2:
“If the wound is on the bottom of the foot, offload it.”
Off-loading means to take away pressure. Wounds on the bottom of the foot are more challenging to heal because with every step you take, the tiny vessels around the wound temporarily looses some blood supply, starving the wound of needed oxygen. The constant pressure doesn’t give the wound opportunity to grow new cells to heal. Off-loading can be dealt with by using a non-medicated corn or felt pad, making sure the wound does not have any pressure directly on it.
WOUND CARE PRINCIPLE #3:
“If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, see Dr. Tea.”
For me, wound care is easy because I see it everyday. But maybe for you, it is your first encounter or you’re just not really sure with how to deal with it. At our Diabetic Foot & Wound Center of Pacific Point Podiatry, all of our diabetic patients have priority appointments if they’re suffering from a limb-threatening infection or have a wound on the foot/ankle. Often times, same day appointments are available. It’s ok to ask for help, that’s what we’re here for.