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Diabetes: Treating Minor and Severe Foot Infections
Diabetes makes it harder for the body to heal. Even minor problems, like a blister, can become infected. If not treated, infections can spread and damage nearby tissues. A hospital stay is then needed to treat it. Serious infections can result in amputations. Prompt treatment by your doctor can help clear up infections and restore your health.
If your doctor finds a minor infection, you'll be started on a treatment program. The goal is to heal the infected area while keeping the infection from spreading.
- Your healthcare provider will examine and clean the infected area.
- You may be given antibiotics to fight the infection. Take your antibiotic according to the instructions on the bottle. Take all the medications you are prescribed, even if the sore begins to look better. If you don't, the infection will not go away and may spread.
- In certain cases, you may be told to keep your feet elevated or to limit walking.
- Follow any instructions you are given regarding changing bandages or soaking your foot.
Even with antibiotics and other treatments, a foot infection may take a long time to heal. For best results, be sure to keep all your follow-up appointments. These help ensure complete treatment. They also allow your healthcare provider to make sure you're healing properly.
When to Call Your Doctor
With diabetes, problems with the feet can easily lead to an infection. Get your doctor's advice if you have any of the following at any time:
- A foot infection, sore, or bruise that does not heal in 1-2 days
- Corns, calluses, or bunions on your feet
- An ingrown toenail
- Itching or cracking between your toes
- Constantly cold feet
- Pain or cramps in your legs or feet
- Skin color changes
Diabetes: Treating Severe Foot Infections
Diabetes makes it harder for the body to heal. Even minor foot problems can develop into serious infections. If not treated, infections can lead to amputation. They can even become life-threatening. Prompt treatment by your doctor is needed to protect your foot and restore your health.
In some cases, infections can spread through the feet and up the leg. To treat a severe infection, you may be hospitalized and give intravenous (IV) antibiotics. You may also be referred to healthcare providers who specialize in treating infections. If the infection is a serious risk to your health, surgery may be recommended.
The Goals of Surgery
The goal of surgery is to remove the infection and protect your foot or leg. Some surgeries remove a small amount of dead tissue from the infected area. In some cases, toes or larger amounts of tissue may be removed. Surgery may be done in a hospital or wound care facility. The length of your stay depends on the surgery and how well you're healing. During recovery, you will likely need to limit activity for a while. You may also have visits from a home healthcare nurse. Be sure to see your doctor for follow-up appointments.
- Regular wound care after surgery helps keep your foot free of infection and aids healing.
- Change your dressing every 6 hours
- You may need IV (intravenous) antibiotics to help control the infection. Other medications may be used to help your foot heal more quickly.
- A home care nurse may shorten your hospital stay by helping with your dressings or IV antibiotics at home.
- If needed, your doctor may refer you to a wound care facility. These are medical facilities that specialize in treating ulcers and infections that are hard to heal. While you're there, you may work with several kinds of doctors. You may also be given antibiotics or other medications that help fight infection. Part or you treatment also included learning to care for the wound at home.
You may be told to keep your foot elevated as much as possible. You may also be told to avoid putting weight on the foot.