Categories

Dealing with Wounds and Diabetes

Dealing with Wounds and Diabetes

By Kevin Cleary

For the majority of people, most everyday wounds don’t concern us. Whether you cut yourself shaving, stub your toe, or injure yourself and require stitches, most people would consider this a serious injury. But for those with diabetes, these can become serious and should never be ignored. Knowing how diabetes affects the body and how to treat minor wounds, infection can be avoided and healing can be expedited. If you have diabetes you should consult with your physician to make sure you have a proper plan for treating your wound.

What Exactly Is Diabetes?

We have all heard the term diabetes, but do we truly understand what it is and how it can adversely affect us. According to WebM.D.com, diabetes is a chronic disease can’t use glucose (sugar) in a normal way. It can create complications that make it difficult for wounds to heal properly. WebMD identifies these as:

  • Nerve Damage (neuropathy)
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Narrow Arteries

Understanding how these complications can affect wound healing is quite important. Neuropathy is nerve damage that can prevent you from feeling pain from a wound until it’s too late. That wound can become worse or even infected before you realize it. In the case of a weakened immune system, even a small wound can become infected faster than if your immune system was able to ward off any germs or bacteria. Narrow arteries can prevent blood flow to the wound site. Those suffering from clogged arteries are more susceptible to developing wounds or ulcers and have them become infected. Since there is a reduced flow of blood, the healing process can be hampered.

Treating Wounds with Diabetes

If you have a wound and suffer from diabetes it is crucial that you seek professional medical attention. You and your doctor (or nurse) should discuss a treatment regimen that will help facilitate healing. For somebody with diabetes, dealing with the wound immediately is paramount. The smallest wound can become infected if any bacteria are allowed to accumulate in the wound. The cleaning of the wound is the next step in dealing with any injury. It’s important to remove any dirt from the injury by using a simple Saline wash or running water without using any soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine since they may irritate the wound. Once you have established your care plan always err on the side of caution and see your doctor, for even the smallest skin problem can become serious. It is much easier to treat a small skin problem before it becomes serious. Lastly, it’s important to keep pressure off the wound while it heals. It is very common for those suffering from diabetes to develop wounds on their feet, so staying off your foot as long as possible will help facilitate healing. It’s these diabetic foot ulcers that are a significant cause of morbidity and the leading cause of hospital admission for diabetes sufferers. In fact, an article written for the website woundsresearch.com states that 2%-3% of diabetic patients will develop foot ulcers annually and that up to 15% of patients will experience chronic foot ulcers in their lifetime. They also report that in those that require lower limb amputation, 70%-90% have had previous foot ulceration.

How to Treat Common Diabetic Wounds

Any wound healing process can be complicated, but doing so with diabetes can be more difficult. After washing the wound area to remove any foreign debris and minimizing any bacteria build up, keeping the wound properly covered is quite important. Using a product such as the Deroyal Kalginate Calcium Alginate Dressing can protect your wound area and create an environment conducive for proper healing. It’s a calcium alginate dressing manufactured with a heavier fiber, which makes it thicker and more substantial, and changes to a fibrous gel when in contact with exudate. Another option which utilizes alginates is the 3M Tegaderm High Gelling Alginate Dressing which becomes a gel like mass when saturated which can be gently irrigated from the wound bed which makes it perfect for moderate to heavily exudating wounds. Diabetes patients may want to look at the Smith & Nephew Cutinova Hydro-Selective Dressing for its ability to absorb water from the wound but leave essential wound healing agents in the wound. It creates a moist healing environment while allowing growth factors and natural proteins to remain in the wound and help with the healing process. The same company offers the Smith & Nephew Acticoat Seven Day Antimicrobial Barrier Wound Dressing that offers a nanocrystalline coating of pure silver that provides an anti-microbial barrier within 30 minutes and is effective up to seven days. It’s this sustained release of silver that can minimize dressing changes and reduce exposure time of the wound bed. Since many diabetic ulcers occur on the foot, pressure relief might be necessary so an option might be the Coloplast Comfeel Plus Pressure Relief Dressing . It utilizes an adaptable polyurethane top film which knows when to open and close to allow excess moisture to evaporate. The high density foam redistributes pressure therefore enhancing circulation. If your diabetic wound produces a high amount of exudate, a great option is the Molnlycke Melgisorb Plus Highly Absorbent Calcium Alginate Wound Dressing . It’s perfect for diabetic ulcers and other trauma wounds that produce a high amount of exudate since it can absorb up to 18 times its own weight. For addressing that uses activated charcoal, the Systagenix Actisorb 220 Activated Charcoal Dressing with Silver is designed to trap wound malodor while protecting the wound from infection with silver. If a hydrocolloid dressing is what you need, the Derma PrimaCol Bordered Hydrocolloid Dressing mixes with the wound exudate to create a soft mass which can be easily removed while protecting the wound from outside contaminants. It’s designed to minimize bunching and rolling which improves wear time and cost effectiveness. Whichever method you need or choose, it’s important to maintain a clean wound bed and moist healing environment while being diligent and consistent with your diabetic wound care program.