If you have diabetes, you have probably been told to make sure to take care of any cut or wound as soon as possible and to treat even a small scrape as something serious. Unfortunately, one of the complications that go hand in hand with this condition is very slow healing. While most people get a small cut and simply clean it and cover it with a bandage, this is often not enough for someone with diabetes. You may find that not only is the cut not healed after weeks or even months, but it seems to be staying the same or getting worse with time. It will be important for you to contact your primary care physician and ask for a referral to a wound care program. Here is what you can expect at your first appointment with the specialists.
Debridement of the Wound
Even if you have kept the wound and surrounding area clean, there may be some dead tissue that needs to be removed. If you have had the wound for a while, this tissue may be inside the cut or be covered by damaged or infected skin that will need to be removed as well. You may need to have some type of local anesthetic for this procedure as it can be harsh and painful. However, the wound will not heal properly if this step is skipped.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
A serious non-healing wound may require a hyperbaric oxygen treatment whether it is infected or not. After the wound is debrided and clean, you will be put into a sealed oxygen chamber. Once the correct amount of pressure is achieved, you will stay in the chamber but can sleep, read a book, watch television, or any other relaxing activity. The extra oxygen will fight any infection and encourage the growth of new cells and tissue.
Diabetics require a special diet. You are probably used to it and hopefully have been sticking to it. However, it never hurts to go over different options again. In addition, you may need to make even more adjustments while the wound heals.
Make sure to look at every cut, scrape, and sore every day. At the first sign of infection or if you notice it is not getting better, contact your doctor. You do not want to wait until things get to the point where you may need to have an amputation. Gangrene is a real problem for diabetics — don't let it become a problem for you.