How Do You Treat Diabetic Sores? 5 Tips

Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
How Do You Treat Diabetic Sores
If left untreated, diabetic sores can lead to serious complications. Learn about 5 tips for treating diabetic sores and how you can prevent them from occurring

Treating diabetic sores involves focusing on encouraging wound healing and preventing the area from getting infected. In some cases, the only way to treat diabetic sores is through a procedure called debridement, in which damaged tissue is removed from the ulcer.

If left untreated, diabetic sores can lead to serious complications such as infections or even gangrene, which occurs when your tissue dies. If gangrene occurs, the only treatment option is amputation. If you have diabetes and notice skin changes, notify your doctor immediately.

5 tips for treating diabetic sores

Your doctor may recommend some precautions to take to prevent your diabetic sores from getting infected or growing bigger:

  1. Keep it clean: Use gentle soap and water to clean the wound, unless your doctor recommends a specific cleaning agent. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or soaking your wound in a bath because doing so could slow down healing and increase your chances of infection.
  2. Keep it covered: Keep the ulcer covered and dressed. Make sure the dressing is clean and dry, changing bandages if they get wet.
  3. Keep pressure off it: You may need to use crutches or special footwear to avoid applying pressure to the area, as this can irritate the affected area. 
  4. Use medications: Your doctor may recommend topical ointments that contain saline or growth factors. Apply as directed.
  5. Monitor your glucose levels: Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can help your body heal faster and prevent more diabetic sores from forming.

What are signs and symptoms of diabetic sores?

Symptoms of diabetic sores may include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Discharge
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Irritation

In severe cases, you may notice serious signs such as black discoloration and numbness, which require immediate medical treatment.

What causes diabetic sores?

Diabetic sores occur in about 15% of diabetes cases and often occur as a result of uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar levels which lead to:

  • Nerve damage
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Restricted blood flow to certain areas of the body

How can you prevent diabetic sores?

There are many ways you can reduce your risk of developing diabetic ulcers:

  • Control blood sugar levels: Keeping your glucose levels under control is the most effective way to keep small cuts and injuries from becoming ulcers.
  • Monitor skin changes: Regularly look for cracks, breaks, cuts, redness, white spots, discoloration, or other skin changes, especially on your feet.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking causes blood vessel damage and reduces blood circulation, which increases your risk of developing soreness and slows the healing process.
  • Avoid going barefoot: Wear shoes that fit properly and protect your feet from injury.


Diabetes: What Raises and Lowers Your Blood Sugar Level? See Slideshow
Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Packer CF, Ali SA, Manna B. Diabetic Ulcer. [Updated 2022 Jan 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

Khan T. Diabetic Foot Ulcers. Medscape.