Did you know that about 15% of patients with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their lives? Healing time can vary widely for these ulcers. And how long a diabetic foot ulcer takes to heal depends on numerous factors including the severity of the ulcer, the individual’s overall health, and how well their diabetes is managed. In today’s post, we’ll explore average ulcer healing times. Then, we’ll share tips for speeding up your recovery. But first, let’s get a clearer understanding of what causes diabetic ulcers to form in the first place! 

What are diabetic ulcers? Feet with ulcers and both balls of foot

When it comes to complications of diabetes, foot ulcers stand as a significant concern. Put simply, ulcers are wounds that typically occur on the bottom of your foot or feet. While they may begin as surface level wounds, ulcers often penetrate deeper into the skin. At that point, they can affect deeper tissues, or sometimes, even your bone. 


Ulcers can develop from various factors. Some of the most common causes include poor circulation, nerve damage or high blood sugar levels. If you’re diabetic, your body’s ability to heal wounds is usually compromised. This makes them more vulnerable to infection. Plus, it makes the healing process a lot slower. 

Now, while ulcers look very uncomfortable, you might not even feel pain due to nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. In fact, neuropathy often leads to unnoticed wounds that can worsen over time, developing into ulcers.  If you’re not controlling your blood sugar levels, you’re at a higher risk of developing foot ulcers. Smoking, being overweight and having high cholesterol can also increase your risk. Finally, foot deformities, or wearing improper foot wear, also puts pressure on certain areas of your feet, increasing your risk for ulcers in those spots. 

Regularly monitoring your feet for cuts, sores or changes can help you catch these ulcers early. Remember, early detection and treatment can greatly improve your chance of a quick recovery. 

How long does it take to heal a diabetic foot ulcer?

Healing a diabetic foot ulcer is anything but straightforward. The time to heal the ulcer is influenced by variables such as the severity and location of the ulcer; control of your blood sugar levels; and the presence of infection. 

Ulcer severity 

The seriousness of your foot ulcer plays a significant role in healing times. If you have a mild ulcer, it’s typically quicker to heal than if you have a more severe one. 
But what kind of ulcer is considered mild? These wounds are more superficial and haven’t penetrated too deeply into the skin. They don’t involve any infection. As such, they may heal in a few weeks to a month, with appropriate care. 

However, if your ulcer is severe, it may take several months or even longer to heal. A severe ulcer has penetrated deeper into the skin, possibly reaching the muscle or bone. Also, it often involves infection. This type of ulcer requires more aggressive treatment and careful monitoring. It’s crucial to follow our Houston podiatrist’s treatment advice if dealing with a severe ulcer. After all, ignoring the problem could lead to serious complications. 

Wound location and blood sugar control 

Another factor that affects how long it takes to heal a diabetic ulcer is the location. An ulcer located on more weight bearing areas of the foot, such as the bottom of your heel, could take longer to heal. And that’s because it’s constantly exposed to the pressure of walking. 

Your blood sugar control also greatly impacts the healing time of ulcers. High blood glucose levels can slow your body’s natural healing process. They can also make it harder for your body to fight off infection. That’s why maintaining good blood sugar control is vital. But taking medications to help isn’t enough. Diet and exercise also help manage your diabetes effectively. And remember, consistent blood sugar control not only speeds up the healing of ulcers, but also helps them from developing in the first place. 

Presence of infection

The presence of an infection can greatly slow down the healing process of diabetic foot ulcers. You must treat any infection promptly. If left unchecked, the infection can spread, causing more damage and further delaying the healing process. Proper wound care is key in preventing infection. Remember, the longer your infection persists, the longer it will take for your ulcer to heal. 

How long does a diabetic foot ulcer take to heal? Circulation matters 

Another factor in the timeframe for ulcer healing is blood circulation. If you don’t have sufficient circulation, it will extend the timeframe for the ulcer to heal. That’s because the blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to the tissues that enables the wound to heal. For that reason, it’s so important to make sure that you have adequate blood circulation, whether or not you have a foot wound. 

Given all these factors to consider, and depending on the severity of the diabetic foot ulcer, the average healing time for these wounds can greatly vary. If you’re dealing with a mild ulcer, you can expect it to heal within a few weeks to a month—as long as you have proper care. 

However, if you’re dealing with a more severe wound, healing your ulcer could take several months or even a year. Your healing plan, which could include antibiotics, dressings, or even surgery, plays a significant role in recovery. Remember, these estimates are based on consistent, effective treatment. If treatment is inconsistent or ineffective, healing will take even longer. 

It’s also important to note that everyone’s healing process is unique. What works for you may not work as well for someone else. And that’s why we take the time to personalize your wound care when you come see Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider

Effective ulcer care in Houston, TX

When it comes to treating diabetic foot ulcers, choosing the right wound dressing is a critical step you can’t afford to overlook. The goal is to create an ideal environment that encourages healing. In our office, we recommend dressings based on your wounds. Dry wounds will require a dressing that adds moisture. In contrast, draining wounds need a dressing that absorbs excess moisture.

Offloading the wound, or taking weight off the ulcer to reduce pressure and enable healing, will also be an important part of your recovery plan. This can be done with therapeutic footwear or devices like fracture boots, total contact casts, or even using crutches or a knee scooter. 

Advanced ulcer therapy

You might also benefit from advanced therapies such as skin substitutes or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If your ulcer doesn’t respond to initial treatment, a skin substitute may be needed to promote faster healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy—breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment—may also help. This process boosts oxygen levels in your blood, prompting your body to release growth factors and stem cells that promote healing. 

In our office, we also use a treatment called Vaporox. It alternates applying ultrasonic water vapor and oxygen to the wound, with the goal of stimulating healing. Luckily, we’ve seen that it works quite well, even for stubborn wounds. However, these advanced therapies should be considered add-on therapies, not stand alone treatment options. 

Wondering how long does it take to heal a diabetic ulcer? Unfortunately, we can’t give you one concrete answer. But we can tell you this: early intervention and effective treatment will speed up your healing. So reach out to our office and request an appointment at the first sign of trouble.