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Signs and symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers

Signs and symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers

Foot wounds are painful and usually stop a person in their tracks. However, in the setting of diabetes, people can go days or even weeks without noticing a serious problem with their feet.

There are a lot of reasons why people end up neglecting their feet. You may be getting older and less flexible, or your belly is getting larger. The biggest risk comes when you lose sensation in your foot, a condition known as neuropathy, which is common in diabetics. In that case, a wound may go unnoticed until it becomes very deep or even infected. That can lead to serious health risks.

“Visually inspecting the feet is crucial,” said Andrew Bruyn, DPM, a podiatrist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Buda. “So it’s important to know the signs of foot ulcers if you or a member of your family has type 2 diabetes.”

What is a diabetic foot ulcer?

An ulcer is a chronic wound that stays open. Diabetic foot ulcers are common and serious complications of diabetes. If they’re not recognized and treated promptly, said Dr. Bruyn, they increase the risk of:

  • Infection
  • Hospitalization
  • Amputation
  • Death

Some ulcers can be difficult to heal, while others simply require some minor treatment and adjustments to shoe wear.

The best thing we can do for an ulcer is detect it early, hopefully while it is still a callus or blister,” Dr. Bruyn said. “If an ulcer reaches the level of bone, then treatment usually involves some form of procedure to remove the devitalized tissue or infection.”


Preventing ulcers from starting or treating them immediately is critical in warding off bigger problems.

“If the foot becomes infected, amputation of the toes or part of the foot are often required to allow the remaining foot heal,” Dr. Bruyn said. “A toe or partial foot amputation increases the risk for adjacent foot wounds and the overall mortality rate for a patient with a diabetic foot ulcer is actually worse than some cancers.”

Foot ulcers are just one of the potential complications of living with diabetes. Click here to find out the rest.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers

Dr. Bruyn said it’s imperative you contact your primary care physician or your podiatrist immediately if you experience:

  • Swelling
  • Drainage or blood in shoes or socks
  • Large calluses or cracked heels
  • Blisters
  • Redness
  • Sores
  • Splinters
  • Scrapes
  • Pus
  • Odor
  • Pain

Foot problems? Find a doctor near you today.