How Are You Dressing Your Diabetic Foot Ulcer?

When we were kids, our moms would typically tell us to keep a cut or skinned knee open, especially at night, so it could "breathe." How much breathing does an open wound do? The answer is none. You need to protect the wound with an antibiotic ointment so it does not become infected and covered with a bandage. This principle is no different for a diabetic foot ulcer.

There are many diabetics with foot ulcers that I see as a podiatrist in Houston, TX, who still feel mom's principle is best. They just keep is open so air can get to it and assume it will heal. This is not sufficient to heal a diabetic foot ulcer and can ultimately be devastating. A diabetic wound does not need air, it needs an optimal environment for the wound to heal. This will Include the use of a wound dressing, which will come in the form of a gel or pad. The use of an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or ointment is not sufficient to achieve the protection and healing you will need. These dressings are formulated to protect from infection, absorb drainage, and provide an optimal environment for the wound to heal. Some of these dressings are changed by each patient daily, but others remain untouched for up to a week.

If a wound does not show significant signs of healing, which is seeing closure of more than 50% in four weeks of treatment, the dressing choice needs to be reassessed. We then consider a more advanced form of dressing for diabetic foot ulcers know as advanced biological dressings. These are dressings composed of bioengineereed living cells that bring large amounts of cells needed for healing to occur. They also form a scaffold across the wound to allow healing to occur from within the wound, rather than just from the edges of the ulcer. These dressings, such as Dermagraft and Apligraf, are an important step in ensuring the diabetic foot ulcer will completely heal.

Studies have shown that the longer a diabetic foot ulcer remains unhealed, the greater the chances that it will become infected and lead to amputation. When selecting the right podiatrist to care for your open diabetic foot ulcer in Houston, TX, it is important to make sure that you will have all dressings options at your disposal. Don't just let your wound breathe itself healed. The risk is too great.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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