I know that it seems as though I’m often posting about negative shit but trust me when I say, it’s about the journey and the pitfalls we face, not the negative aspect. That being said, it can be easy to fill an entire book with the negative aspects of Diabetes, considering the side effects and secondary issues it causes within the human body. One of them happens to be that wounds are much more difficult to heal for someone with type-1 Diabetes. This if for a variety of reasons including but not limited to, poor blood circulation and nerve damage.
One of the nastiest and most annoying wounds that one can get, is when a toe splits open. Believe it or not, this can happen a great deal when doing karate by virtue of some of the stepping, stomping and movement performed repetitively on a hard floor over hours of class time. I recently discovered this when I noticed last Thursday night after class that my right foot stung every time I took a step. When I got my phone out to snap a pic of what was happening underneath (I’m sure as hell not flexible enough anymore to bring my foot up to my face) I found a fine cut, right the seam where the toe meets the foot.
These types of wounds are worse than paper cuts, because they continue to constantly move and flex with every step one takes. This means that it’s all the more difficult for these kinds of cuts to heal in a timely manner because the wound can’t sit long enough for it to close up quickly (or as quickly as a Diabetic foot will permit). And of course, all the usual Diabetes-related issues will apply; poor circulation in the extremities and neurological damage will contribute to the overall length of time it takes to heal.
That being said, there are things you can do to ensure this type of wound DOES heal up, whether it takes a bit longer or not. Keeping your feet warm and dry are the first lines of defence. Moist feet will breed bacteria (yes, I used the word “moist,” get over it), which is the last thing you want when you have an open wound in an enclosed area like the bottom of a toe. Although most and covered wounds may be more likely to let regeneration happen faster in most wounds, you need to consider the totality of where the injury is, coupled with the fact that the cut I’m showing you in the photo above won’t scab. No one likes scabs, but they do serve an important role in the healing process.
Since a cut like this won’t easily accommodate a band-aid or bandages, keeping the wound site clean can be problematic, especially if you’re stubborn and will keep going to class and training with bare feet. As much as it pains me to recommend it, taking the next class or two off, to allow the cut to heal is preferable to walking and training on a floor where several parties are all bare-footed as well. Luckily, I discovered this cut on Thursday night and no longer have class until Monday night, so I should be able to let it heal.
When you’ve showered/bathed, be sure to dry the area properly and don’t be afraid to let your feet air out well before slipping on socks. If you wear slippers, remember that those bastards contain everything your feet come into contact with. So if you’ve got a pair of old faithfuls that you’ve been wearing for years and you slip them on your freshly-showered feet, you’re mashing light-knows-what into your wound that’s been collected inside them bastards when your feet maybe weren’t as clean as you’d like to think. Moving on…
Antibiotic creams or gels CAN be helpful, although the jury is out on whether they genuinely provide faster healing or not. The consensus I’ve found is that they can help to reduce the risk of infection in simple cuts and wounds but may not do a great deal for the length of time it takes to heal. The other thing to consider is if you smear antibiotic cream into the crook of your toe, as with the cut in the picture above, you’re likely going to rub it all off as soon as you start walking, barefooted or not.
This is the part where I explain that proper diet and exercise and strict management of your blood sugars level will all help with the proper healing of cuts and wounds on your feet. As with any injury, you should seek medical attention if you start to notice that it’s becoming red and angry, turning strange colours, spreading or oozing pus or fluid. Or if it’s been an extended period of time without healing. That’s kind of important, as well.
Limb amputation is the last point I’ll touch on in this post, as morbid as it may be. It’s a harsh reality that’s people will Diabetes often need to face, especially in cases where their condition is poorly controlled and monitored. When a wound in the extremities becomes aggravated or infected, there’s a greater chance that it can lead to amputation, which is why it’s so important to take good care of your feet. You only get one set, so you need to pay attention. Check your feet for wounds and sores you may not feel or be aware you have. Keep that circulation going and keep your blood sugars controlled. ☯️