Injuries and Wounds

How Does Diabetes Affect The Wound Healing Process

Insulin is the hormone released by the pancreas that is responsible for the breakdown of food into glucose. Diabetes is a disease...

Written by edith bulluck · 3 min read >
Diabetes

Insulin is the hormone released by the pancreas that is responsible for the breakdown of food into glucose. Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to produce this hormone. It can also hinder the utilization of insulin to convert glucose or sugar into energy. 

When the body cannot produce enough insulin or use the insulin effectively, it leads to raised glucose levels, ultimately increasing blood sugar levels. This condition is termed Diabetes. 

Without proper diabetes management, raised blood sugar levels can lead to several complications, and ‘impaired wound healing is one of them. Due to difficulty in metabolizing glucose, the body’s ability to heal wounds is negatively affected. 

In diabetes patients, the wounds tend to progress more quickly and heal slowly. If left untreated, these wounds can also lead to conditions such as ulcers. 

In this article, we will take a look at the diabetic factors that adversely impact the wound healing process and the techniques to fasten it. 

Causes For Slow Wound Healing In Diabetes Patients 

Increased Blood Sugar 

Blood Sugar plays a significant role in the wound healing process. Elevated blood sugar levels affect the normal functioning of our body’s immune system. 

A weakened immune system can lead to a wide array of problems, such as stiffening the arteries and narrowing of blood vessels. Due to these problems, the injured areas aren’t supplied with the required nutrients and oxygen and immune fighters that repair the wound, ultimately increasing the healing time. 

Neuropathy 

Neuropathy is a prime reason for both increased chances of injuries in diabetic patients and slow healing of wounds. When the blood sugar is consistently high, it eventually damages the nerves and vessels and decreases sensitivity. 

Because of decreased sensitivity, the patients are not able to feel the wounds when they are injured. They also may not feel pain when the injuries are infected or growing, making it imperative for diabetes patients to check their skin regularly and keep their hands and feet well protected. 

Poor Circulation 

Poor blood circulation is a common problem in diabetes patients. As mentioned above, increased blood sugar levels cause the blood vessels to shrink, and less oxygen can reach the wound site, slowing down the healing process. 

Just as a plant that does not receive proper water in the roots becomes crips and dries out, the skin around the wound that does not heal begins to break down. Consequently, the chances of ulcers are increased.

Increased Inflammation

Experiencing inflammation is common when a wound is healing, but in diabetic wound healing, the inflammation stage lasts longer than usual. In this process, the wound becomes chronic, and the balance between producing and degrading collagen is lost, which slows down the healing. 

How To Prevent Diabetic Wounds 

Regularly check your skin, especially your feet. 

Monitor your glucose levels daily- It is essential to maintain normal glucose levels for optimal functioning of the immune system. 

Wear well fitted and fully covered footwear

Pay attention to your knees and toes- if you experience sudden cramping or difficulty walking, these can be the signs of poor blood circulation. 

Remove dead cells – dead cells promote bacteria and boost infection spreading. It is essential to get rid of dead tissues for effective healing. 

How to Speed Up Diabetes Wound Healing 

Keep the dressing Fresh 

Dressing your wound is vital to protect it and facilitate healing. However, if the dressing is not changed regularly, it can negatively impact the healing process. 

Regularly changing the dressing reduces the chances of forming bacteria and prevents wounds from drying up. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before dressing up the damage. 

Offload the pressure from the injured area

Excessive pressure on the wounded area can damage the skin and result in deeper wounds or ulcers. To ensure that your healing process is not impaired and prevent the wound’s recurring, it is important to offload the pressure from the affected area. 

You can use padding to cushion the wounded area or create a cut-out within the shoe or insole to offload these sites appropriately. This ensures that the pressure is alleviated from the injured area so that the wound doesn’t flare up. 

Healthy Diet

Diet is an essential part of diabetes management. A person’s diet plays a crucial role in maintaining blood sugar levels and thus in wound healing.  

Maintaining a healthy diet that consists of ample protein, vitamins and minerals reduces wound occurrence and promotes faster healing when the wound occurs. Diabetes patients should avoid processed foods, added sugar and junk food. 

Their diet should consist of vitamin C rich foods, fibre, fresh fruits and vegetables. The nutrition derived from these healthy food supplements will significantly improve wound healing and overall immunity. 

Physical Exercise 

For wound healing, proper blood circulation is crucial, and for that, regular physical exercises are essential. Exercise promotes insulin production and allows sugar to enter your cells quickly, which is essential to facilitate oxygen and nutrient flows to the wounded area. 

Skin grafting and skin flapping

Some deep and chronic diabetic wounds cannot be healed with natural remedies and may require surgical treatment. 

Skin Grafting is a treatment method that involves taking a thin layer of healthy skin from your calf, which is stretched and placed over the open wound. This skin closes the open wound and allows the skin to heal. Only the topmost layer is carefully removed from your calf or thigh in skin grafting, which does not form a new wound. 

Skin flapping is a surgical technique that involves excision of the wound and manipulation of the wounded skin to allow wound closure with stitches. 

The Bottom Line 

For diabetes patients, wounds are a fundamental cause of concern. Without proper diabetes management, minor wounds can progress into an infection or, worse, an ulcer or amputation. 

We hope these tips help you to promote faster healing and prevent severe complications in the future. It is always recommended to consult a professional to avoid serious complications, even if the wound is small. 

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