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Important information for Diabetic Foot Ulcer (DFU) patients and caregivers.

WHAT is a diabetic foot ulcer?

Diabetic foot ulcers are serious.Two out of three amputations in the United States happen because of diabetic foot ulcers. Three out of four people who have one of their legs amputated die in 5 years. This is a higher rate of death compared to most cancers.

A diabetic foot ulcer is a wound or opening in the skin anywhere on the foot (including toes) of a person with diabetes mellitus (that is, with too much sugar in the blood)

WHAT causes a diabetic foot ulcer?
HOW do I care for my diabetic foot ulcer?

Diabetic foot ulcers need special care and treatment to prevent infection and to help them heal.

Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for wound care which may include:

  • Cleaning the wound
  • Applying medicine or other treatment to the wound and the surrounding skin
  • Covering the wound
  • Wearing offloading shoes, boots, or a leg cast that takes pressure off the foot and/or toes
WHAT is “offloading” and WHY do I need it?

Offloading is the use of special footwear, a boot, or a cast (offloading device) to relieve pressure from the diabetic foot ulcer during walking.

If your health care provider suggests that you “offload”, this means you should not walk on the affected limb without a good offloading device.

WHAT can happen if my diabetic foot ulcer is left untreated?

Patients with diabetes can have decreased blood flow to the feet and toes (poor circulation) due to disease in their arteries which can cause slow healing and increase the risk of infection.

Infections are a serious complication of diabetic foot ulcers and can lead to bone infections, body infections, and amputation of one or more toes, part of the foot, and/or the leg.

Amputation is the surgical removal of all or part of a limb or extremity. It is a serious surgical procedure that in some cases may be the best way to control a severe, life-threatening infection.

WHEN should I contact my healthcare provider?

Don’t wait or hesitate: Contact your healthcare provider at the first sign of blistering, opening in the skin, or signs of infection.

Signs of infection include:

  • Fevers, chills, nausea, or vomiting
  • Unusual increase in blood sugar level
  • Increased pain that does not go away
  • Redness in and around the wound
  • Foot/toes are warm to touch
  • Swelling in the leg, foot, or toes
  • Increased or unusual wound drainage or odor