Diabetes Wounds

People with diabetes are at risk of complications, including slow wound healing. Talk to your doctor if you have a slow-healing wound. Wounds need to be treated as soon as possible to avoid serious health problems.

What do I need to know about wounds if I have diabetes?

Diabetes affects the way your body processes glucose. Abnormally high blood glucose levels are associated with serious complications, including slow-healing wounds caused by:

  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Narrow arteries

Signs and Symptoms

People with slow-healing wounds caused by diabetes may have the following signs or symptoms:

  • Chronic pain or no pain at all
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Pus drainage (weeping wound)
  • Bad odor coming from the wound
  • Dead tissue around the wound
  • Numbness and dullness
  • Fever and/or chills

Possible Complications

Wounds need to be treated as soon as possible to avoid serious health problems. Some complications include:

  • Foot injury
  • Infections
  • Ulcers
  • Damage to nerves and bone
  • Poor blood flow

Wounds that become serious may cause so much damage to tissue and bone that amputation is necessary. It is important to care for a wound immediately before amputation becomes the only option. Research shows that ulcers often appear as the wound becomes very serious, requiring a lower limb amputation. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing problems with wounds not healing.


Prevention is the best treatment.

  • Keep your diabetes well controlled with diet, exercise and medications
  • Inspect the skin every day to look for developing wounds (or have a family member do it)
  • Wear well fitting shoes that do not cause “pressure points”; do not wear shoes or socks that are too tight
  • Avoid walking barefoot
  • Keep nails carefully trimmed
  • Keep the skin clean and dry
  • Regularly see a podiatrist or have your primary doctor do a regular foot exam
  • Get early medical care for any injuries that do not seem to be healing as they should

If a wound occurs, treatment can include:

  • Keeping all wounds clean and properly dressed
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgical debridement (removal) of dead or infected tissue
  • Referral to a podiatrist or a wound care center
  • Surgery for limb amputation when there is a serious infection