What are Diabetic Foot Ulcers? Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Diabetic foot ulcers happen due to uncontrolled diabetes. But what do diabetic foot ulcers look like? What are the symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers and how to treat them? Let’s find out!!

Diabetes makes people more prone to foot ulcers. Ulcers are open lesions on the foot of a diabetic person, most commonly located on the plantar surface of the foot. But what are diabetic foot ulcers? What do they look like? How is a diabetic foot treated? Let’s take a look at all of this in detail.




What is Diabetic Foot Ulcer? Why Does it Happen?

Diabetic foot ulcers are usually caused due to uncontrolled Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Roughly 15% of diabetics worldwide suffer from diabetic foot ulcers. Ulcers develop due to any trivial injury breaking the integrity of the skin, exposing the layers underneath.


Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcer

Before a visual diagnosis by a doctor confirms the presence of a diabetic foot ulcer, there are a few symptoms that are noticeable at home.

  • Discharge of fluid, blood or pus
  • Skin Changes
  • Skin discolouration
  • Pain
  • Altered sensation
  • Odour


Causes Of Diabetic Foot

Understanding the causes of a diabetic foot can help prevent foot ulcers:


1. Diabetic Neuropathy

  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Unexplained tiredness and fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Severe diaper rash in babies (maybe due to diabetes)


2. Sensory Neuropathy

In the long run, the sensory nerves of a diabetic person suffer damage. So, they do not feel heat, cold, or pain in their feet.


3. Peripheral Neuropathy

Muscle weakness and loss of reflexes, especially at the ankle caused by peripheral neuropathy. This changes the walking pattern and leads to foot anomalies increasing the risk of injury. 


4. Peripheral Artery Disease

Diabetes damages blood vessels by hardening and narrowing the arteries. The damage restricts blood supply to the feet and increases the risk of an ulcer infection.


Risk Factors of Diabetic Foot Ulcer

The pathophysiology of diabetic foot ulcers shows a correlation between the following factors and foot ulcers:


Treatment for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

The treatment of non-healing diabetic ulcers can vary from medications to surgical treatment. Even before the treatment for the diabetic foot ulcer begins, it is imperative to get the blood glucose levels under control. Without proper control of diabetes, diabetic foot ulcer treatment will be ineffective.

Medication For Diabetic Foot Ulcer

The foremost objective in managing foot ulcers in diabetes is to heal the ulcer before it gets infected. Diabetic foot ulcer treatment needs antibiotics. 


To prevent infection, cleanse the wound of debris. To enhance the healing process, before dressing, topical medication should be applied.


Surgical Procedure For Diabetic Foot Ulcer

When conservative treatment fails, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. Surgical management includes the excision of bones, correction of deformities and amputation when tissue damage is irreversible.


Prevention of Diabetic Foot Ulcer

The ideal way to treat a diabetic foot ulcer is to prevent its formation in the first place. 

  • Learning how to examine your feet is vital in determining a potential problem in the early phase. Carefully inspect your feet every day.
  • Wearing the right size shoes and socks will go a long way in lowering risks. 
  • Have a regular check on blood sugar and blood pressure levels. 
  • Avoid other predisposing risk factors like smoking and alcohol consumption.


When to See a Doctor?

  • Once you notice a foot wound, ulcer or foul-smelling discharge coming from an open sore, seek the help of your diabetologist immediately.
  • Diagnosis and treatment in the initial phase would result in faster healing with a good prognosis.
  • The best treatment for diabetic foot ulcers is prevention. For prevention, it is important to monitor blood glucose levels. Connect with doctors on PhableCare for proper blood sugar monitoring and treatment of diabetes. Skilled doctors are available round the clock for consultation, monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of diabetes and diabetes complications such as diabetic foot ulcer.


Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Foot ulcers in diabetes are one of the complications of long-standing and uncontrolled diabetes. A diabetic foot ulcer symptoms may appear like a red sore, blister or small wound. In some, it may begin with pain or foul-smelling discharge.
  • One of the main reasons for foot ulcers is poor foot hygiene and wrong size footwear.
  • Diabetic foot ulcers can be managed with medication and surgical treatment.
  • Diabetic foot ulcers can be prevented with good hygiene, regular inspection of the feet, and good blood sugar and diabetes management.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Friendly Asked Questions

What does a diabetic foot ulcer look like?

Diabetic ulcers of the foot look like a red sore or blister commonly found under the big toe or ball of the foot. If the wound gets infected, you will notice foul-smelling discharge.

How do diabetic foot ulcers start?

Ulcers start to form due to predisposing factors. Factors such as:
-Poor blood circulation
-Poorly fitted shoes
-Injury to the foot 

Will diabetic foot ulcers heal?

Yes, diabetic ulcers heal with timely treatment. Duration of healing depends on several factors such as its size, pressure over the wound and blood glucose levels. It takes a prolonged treatment, continuous effort over a period of time to heal completely.

What does the beginning of a diabetic ulcer look like?

In the early stages, the diabetic ulcer looks like a rounded, red open sore in the skin. Skin discolouration can also be present around the wound. 

How long does a diabetic ulcer take to heal?

The healing of a diabetic ulcer depends upon the grade of diabetic foot ulcer. It may occur within a couple of weeks or may require a minimum of 75 days to 113 days to heal. 

Why is my foot ulcer not healing?

If you have a non-healing ulcer on your foot, it is time for you to check your blood glucose levels. Healing duration also depends on the stage of diabetic foot ulcer. Decreased blood supply or microbial infection could also be another reason why your ulcer is not healing.

How do you heal a foot ulcer naturally?

For natural diabetic foot infection treatment, wash the affected part with mild soap and lukewarm water. Gently remove dead skin and debris from the ulcer. Thoroughly dry your skin and feet.