Our Skilled Austin Foot and Ankle Doctors Explain How to Help Reduce the Risk of Foot Wound Complications

If your feet are at risk for wounds that don’t heal as quickly as they should, you’re also at risk of suffering complications due to those wounds. The skilled and knowledgeable podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help you reduce the chances of foot wound complications that can derail your recovery. Ways to prevent foot wound complications

Possible Complications of a Foot Wound

If you suffer a foot wound or an ulcer, especially if you are a patient with diabetes, healing that wound can be difficult, and you may sometimes experience unpleasant side effects and complications. Some of the following complications can be painful and endanger your health, quality of life, and safety:


If you have an ulcer on your foot and notice swelling and/or foul-smelling drainage, you may have a bacterial infection called cellulitis. This infection can spread to the bone and other parts of the body. Additionally, watch for fever and chills.


Foot ulcers often lead to abscesses, which are painful pockets of pus beneath the skin.


An infection that spreads to the bloodstream is called sepsis. This is a life-threatening condition that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Signs of sepsis include:

  • Confusion
  • Blue or blotchy skin
  • Trouble breathing


Weakened foot muscles and bones can occur when diabetes is uncontrolled for too long. This can lead to deformities, when bones become fragile and begin to break or dislocate from even small amounts of pressure. Walking can become impossible in some cases.


As tissue dies off from a bacterial infection and loss of blood flow, the skin will become discolored, pus or discharge will appear, and the patient will lose feeling in the impacted area.


Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic lower extremity amputations in the U.S. To save a patient’s life, doctors may be forced to remove parts of their feet and legs. There may be no other way to prevent the spread of infection to their bloodstream if rapid treatment to avoid amputation does not occur.

How You Can Help Prevent Foot Wound Complications

Not only is it often possible to prevent foot ulcers, but there are also steps you can take to reduce the chances of wounds worsening while they are in the process of healing. The steps for preventing foot ulcers and for preventing complications from them are very similar:                                                  

Proper Foot Hygiene

If you have diabetes, peripheral artery disease (PAD), vascular disease, high blood pressure, or any other medical condition that increases your risk of developing foot ulcers, it is crucial that you take foot care seriously by doing the following:

  • Thoroughly washing your feet every day with a mild soap and water.
  • Drying your feet thoroughly, paying close attention to the area between your toes.
  • Applying lotion to your feet to avoid dry skin and cracking, which can permit germs to enter the skin and lead to infection. Do not apply an excessive amount of lotion between your toes.
  • Inspecting feet for cuts, scrapes, and wounds each day, paying special attention to the area between the toes. If there are areas of your feet that you can’t easily see, use a mirror or have another person check those areas.
  • Bandaging minor wounds like cuts and blisters after the area has been cleaned with mild soap and water. Wound care products like hydrogels may be beneficial when a moist healing environment is required. If you are not sure if a dry or moist environment is better, talk to your podiatrist.
  • Always wearing clean, dry socks that are intended for people with circulation issues.
  • Never applying alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to a diabetic foot wound, as these can kill healthy cells along with unhealthy ones and slow healing down even more.

Protective Footwear

People at risk for foot ulcers should never go barefoot, even inside their own homes. Shoes should always be comfortable and properly fitted to avoid rubbing and squeezing. Footwear that is designed with a diabetic patient in mind is less likely to create problems like blisters, ingrown toenails, and other issues that lead to foot ulcers. Before putting on your shoes, always check for foreign objects inside of them. Consider custom orthotics to further reduce your risk of foot ulcers.

Activities to Avoid

Several lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing foot ulcers and increase how long injuries to your feet require to heal. These include:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Removing foot lesions or calluses at home

Professional Care

Because a small sore can become a life-threatening condition very rapidly for people with certain medical conditions, it is a good idea to follow the medical advice you receive and maintain close contact with your medical team. This includes:

  • Maintaining regular appointments with all of your specialists, including your podiatrist
  • Controlling your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol with diet, exercise, and medication as recommended
  • Contacting your podiatrist any time you observe:
    • Blisters
    • Ingrown toenails
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Discoloration
    • Dry, cracked, or scaly skin
    • Rash
    • Calluses
    • Discharge or an unpleasant odor
    • Increased warmth

Even if you notice these symptoms without pain, you should still contact a podiatrist right away. Because foot ulcers are partially the result of poor circulation, which can lead to decreased sensation in the feet, it is important to never assume that the severity of an injury can be judged by how much it hurts.

How an Austin Podiatrist Can Help

At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we are skilled podiatrists who can help treat wounds and educate you on how to help prevent them. The sooner you contact us, the more options we have for helping you recover quickly. Our doctors can recommend the best treatments for foot ulcers, provide orthotic devices or footwear to offload pressure from the foot and remove dead tissue, and also use DermaClose to help the wound heal.

Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist
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