What wound care problems are associated with diabetes?
In advanced cases, circulation to the extremities - usually the legs, feet and toes - becomes less and less due to narrowing arteries. Because of the poor circulation, even minor injuries like skin blisters may not heal. When sores don't heal, infection can occur. In time, the skin in the infected area can die (called gangrene). When this happens surgery must be performed to remove the dead tissue. In some cases, amputation of the toes, foot, or leg may be necessary. It’s important to be well informed about your condition and listen to you healthcare providers’ directions.
If I am a diabetic, how important is it to keep my blood sugar in control?
It is very important. Diabetes is a chronic condition which prevents the body from using sugar (glucose) properly. This results in high blood sugars that can slow the healing process. If blood sugar is poorly controlled, it may result in nerve damage and circulatory issues, among other problems. The medical term for nerve damage is neuropathy. Patients with a neuropathy have a reduced sense of pain. For this reason, they may not be aware of serious problems in their feet because they have little to no feeling. For example, a serious infection could be present with little to no pain. Narrow arteries restrict the blood flow that is necessary for healing. A weakened immune system allows even minor wounds to become infected and compromises the healing process. If you or someone you know has diabetes, a clear plan for controlling their blood sugar is essential.
Is amputation inevitable with chronic wounds?
No. In many cases, amputation may be avoided with proper treatment combined with other therapies, such as vascular procedures and hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
Do chronic-wounds require treatment for life?
No. There are many factors that affect the healing process. Our treatment approaches are customized to your needs and are developed to significantly decrease the time required for wounds to heal completely.
Do chronic wounds require time in the hospital?
Unless there are other complicating factors, the majority can be treated on an outpatient basis.
Should I let my wound be open to air?
No, healing progresses more rapidly when the wound is kept moist. Your provider will use specialized dressings to maintain just the right amount of moisture; not too much and not too little. It will also protect the wound from contamination.
Can I get my wound wet in the shower?
Yes, unless you have sutures (stitches), staples, exposed bone or your doctor has advised against it. Make sure you ask before you shower or bathe. If you need to keep your wound dry, place a garbage bag or a plastic cover over the wound or extremity to keep it dry. Typically, you should not be soaking your wound.
We do not recommend use of a whirlpool on a regular basis - as water under pressure may drive bacteria (germs) into the wound tissue.
What if I forget to change my dressing?
As soon as you remember, change your dressing. Be careful in removing it, just in case it is stuck to the wound. Use enough water to soak it off if it is stuck so that it comes off without causing you any pain. Then re-dress your wound as the doctor has directed.
If I get dry skin, can I use lotion?
Yes, skin that is kept moist is less likely to break down. However, do not put skin lotion in the wound. If you have dry skin, please ask the doctor for a recommended product.
Suggested lotions are any kind of lotion that is an emollient, which puts moisture back into the skin instead of covering the skin as another layer. Do not use petroleum jelly because it forms a separate layer. Ask your wound care physician or pharmacist for the types of emollients suggested for use.
What should I be reporting to my doctor?
Please inform your wound care doctor of any of the following:
- Pain from your wound
- Increase in drainage from your wound
- High blood sugar, if you are diabetic
- Redness in the skin around your wound
- Bleeding from your wound
- Changes in your body temperature, blood pressure or mental orientation
- Need for dressing supplies
- Any new wounds you find on your body
- Any changes in your medications
- Difficulty in completing the prescribed dressing changes
- Any questions or concerns you have about your wound care
Is treatment covered by my insurance?
While Garnet Health Medical Center Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center accepts most insurance plans, it is recommended that you check with your insurance company to verify specific benefit coverage before wound care treatment.
If you are covered by Medicare, a physician’s referral is not necessary for our staff to treat your wound. You may walk into our Center and ask for a consult. Please note that other insurance companies may require a physician’s referral and we always suggest that you check with your insurance company to confirm your coverage and what is needed. Our staff will gladly assist you with this.