Diabetic Foot Care

Medical Treatment

Antibiotics may be prescribed if an infection is present or has a high risk of becoming infected, such as a cat bite. The doctor may also give a single dose of antibiotics as a shot or IV dose in the clinic or emergency department prior to starting pills. It is very important to take the entire round of antibiotics. You should see some improvement in the wound in two to three days and may even see improvement the first day.

For limb or life-threatening infections, the patient will be admitted to the hospital and given IV antibiotics. Your doctor may also order x-rays of your foot to make sure the bone is not infected and culture the wound to find out what type of infection you have and which antibiotic will work best. Your doctor may also clean out any dead and infected tissue or refer you to a wound care center.

Many hospitals, now have wound care centers specializing in the treatment of diabetic lower extremity wounds and ulcers. In these centers, doctors, nurses and therapists work with you and your primary care physician to develop a treatment plan. Treatment plans may include surgical debridement of the wound, improvement of circulation through surgery or therapy, special dressings, and antibiotics or a combination of treatments. Your doctor may also prescribe a special shoe, brace, or cast on your foot to protect it.

If necessary, your doctor may prescribe a home health nurse, or aide, to help with wound care and dressings, monitor blood sugar, and help you take antibiotics and other medications properly during the healing period.

After the foot ulcer heals, treat your foot carefully. Scar tissue under the healed wound will break down easily. You may need to wear special shoes after the ulcer is healed to protect this area and to prevent the ulcer from returning.

If you have bone-related problems, toenail problems, corns and calluses, hammertoes, bunions, flat feet, heel spurs, arthritis, or have difficulty with finding shoes that fit, your physician may refer you to a podiatrist or orthopedist. They may create shoe inserts, prescribe shoes, remove calluses and have expertise in surgical solutions for bone problems. They can also be an excellent resource for routine foot care. Ask your doctor about Medicare coverage for special shoes.

Finding an orthopedist or podiatrist.


Johnson and Johnson

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases

Mayo Clinic


American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society

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