Wound Care 101
For every wound or ulcer, there are a few standards of care that must be followed closely to ensure proper and timely healing:
- Maintain a moist wound environment. Contrary to popular belief, it is not helpful to let a wound “dry out”. Keep an ointment like Vaseline or Aquaphor in place on a wound at all times.
- Gently wash a wound or ulcer with water, saline or a gentle cleanser. Antibacterial cleansers are fine if they are not alcohol based. Avoid cleansers that dry out the wound.
- Remove necrotic or infected tissue. This is called debridement. Debridement should be done by a physician or a nurse specialist. Enzymatic debridement creams are sometimes used to help remove minor amounts of necrotic tissue.
- Infection control with antibiotics (Polysporin ointment, dilute vinegar soaks or systemic antibiotics, for example) is very important. The proper antibiotic approach for each wound should be determined by a physician.
- Nutritional support of a wound includes eating a
balancediet. Remember, the best wound care in the world cannot heal a wound if there is underlying malnourishment. For diabetics, there must be adequate caloric intake and strict control of blood glucose levels.
Diabetic ulcers are caused when the foot skin
- Prevention of diabetic ulcers is crucial.
- Close control of blood glucose level.
- Maintain proper body weight.
- Avoid smoking, it damages the circulation in the feet.
- Foot inspection should be performed daily.
- Wear comfortable well-fitting shoes.
- Regular washing and thorough drying of the feet (between toes!) is encouraged.
- Sensory neurological examination should be performed to monitor sensation.
- Nails should be kept trimmed; cutting them too short should be avoided.
- Avoid weight bearing on a diabetic foot ulcer.
Weight bearingrelief can come from the use of contact casts, shoe inserts, special shoes, and even crutches.
- Referral to a specialist in foot shoes may be recommended by your physician.
- Bed rest or foot elevation during the day may be required to keep pressure off the foot, heels, ankles
- Off-loading (relief of pressure) is the most important aspect of treating diabetic foot ulcers. Special fitting shoes and casting of the ulcerated foot are helpful.
- Not taking a diabetic ulcer seriously early may lead to amputation later.
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Venous Ulcers are one of the most common forms of leg ulcers. Small valves that normally prevent blood from pooling in the legs become damaged. As a result, the legs swell. This swelling can eventually cause breaks in the skin that lead to ulceration. Compression therapy is the most important aspect of venous ulcer therapy Unna Boots or other compression bandages can be helpful to heal venous ulcers. Long-term use of compression stockings is recommended after a venous ulcer has healed to prevent recurrences.
Pressure ulcers arise when pressure inhibits blood flow to the skin (ischemia). The pressure is usually over a bony prominence like the side of the foot, an ankle or the sacrum (lower back bones). A bedsore is an example of a pressure ulcer. With prolonged pressure (sometimes even a few minutes), the skin changes to red, blue or black, signifying
Meet Our Providers
Our providers continue to maintain the highest levels of accreditation and progressive ongoing education to learn and understand the latest developments in medical dermatology. Each provider's education and bio can be viewed below.
Melanie Kuechle, MD
Dr. Kuechle is a native of Texas and a graduate of Baylor University College of Medicine. She completed her dermatology residency at...
Janet M. Trowbridge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Trowbridge is a native of upstate New York and a graduate of the New York University Schools of Medicine and...
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