Archive for the ‘Diabetic Wound Care’ Category

Diabetic Foot Screening Guide

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Five clinical tests for diagnosing loss of protective sensation in the diabetic foot, plus tips on inflammation assessment.

 

Diabetic Foot Screening Guide

 

How serious are diabetic foot ulcers? The statistics are sobering:

  • It is estimated that between 10 and 25% of patients with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime.
  • Diabetic foot ulcers precede 84% of all lower leg amputations.
  • The five-year mortality of patients with newly diagnosed diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) is nearly 50%, and carries a worse prognosis than breast cancer, prostate cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In addition, DFUs are at increased risk for infections and other complications, and continue to be a major cause of hospitalizations and additional healthcare expenditures.  So while patients suffer greatly from DFUs, these chronic wounds are also a huge financial burden on healthcare systems. This is because these same patients spend more days in the hospital, and experience more visits to the emergency room and outpatient physician offices than other patients with diabetes.

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Diabetic Footwear: If The Shoe Fits, Wear It

Friday, April 29th, 2016

When it comes to diabetic wound care, footwear matters – and proper diabetic patient shoe assessment is key.

Diabetic Footwear

 

Wound clinicians know how devastating foot amputations are for diabetic patients. But what you might not know is that a whopping 50% of diabetic foot amputations are a direct result of patients wearing improper footwear. Surprised? Unfortunately, this staggering statistic is accurate. But the good news is that there’s something we can do about it. If we get diabetic patients to wear the proper shoes, we can cut diabetic foot amputations in half.

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Diabetic Wound Care: Monofilament Testing

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Detecting neuropathy in the diabetic foot is crucial for patient care, which is why this 10-step test is a must when it comes to injury and ulceration prevention.

Monofilament Testing

 

Healing patients and helping them get on the road to recovery are always at the top of any wound clinician’s list. We are always on alert and in constant assessment mode, looking for ways to prevent further complications or possible injury. So when a patient also happens to be diabetic, our assessment mode goes into overdrive.

One of the most common complications of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage of the extremities. With sensory neuropathy, the patient loses protective sensation and the ability to feel pain and temperature changes. Without protective sensation, the diabetic patient is at an increased risk for foot injury or ulceration, and may not realize anything is amiss until there are serious complications.

Semmes Weinstein 10g Monofilament Test

This is why testing your diabetic patients for neuropathy is so important. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends that we screen diabetic patients for neuropathy annually, at minimum. Once we note any diminished sensation, we should check quarterly.

One way to assess protective sensation in the diabetic foot is to perform a Semmes Weinstein 10g Monofilament Test across designated sites on the foot.  The test uses a 5.07 monofilament that exerts 10 grams of force when bowed into a C-shape against the skin for one second.

 

Monofilament Diagrams

 

The test procedure is as follows:

  1. Use the 10gm monofilament to test sensation.
  2. Have patient close his or her eyes.
  3. Apply the filament perpendicular to the skin’s surface.
  4. Be aware that the approach, skin contact and departure of the monofilament should be approximately 1.5 seconds in duration.
  5. Apply sufficient force to allow the filament to bend. (Figure 1).
  6. Do not apply to an ulcer site or on a callous, scar, or necrotic tissue.
  7. Do not allow the filament to slide across the skin or make repetitive contact at the test site. Randomly change the order and timing of successive tests.
  8. Ask the patient to respond, “Yes,” when the filament is felt.
  9. Document response when felt, and test for sensation (Figure 2).
  10. Be aware that neuropathy usually starts in the first and third toes, and progresses to the first and third metatarsal heads. It is likely that these areas will be the first to have negative results with the 10gm monofilament. Repeated testing can demonstrate vividly to the patient the progression of the disease.

Record the results on the screening form, noting a “+” for sensation felt, and a “-” for no sensation felt. The patient is said to have an insensate foot if they fail on retesting at just one or more sites on either foot. Injury is much more likely to occur in these insensate areas and we must take protective measures. Provide patient education verbally and in writing, such as these materials from the American Diabetes Association, and be sure to do a good shoe fit assessment as part of your care plan.

Do you administer this test?

Are you familiar with the Semmes Weinstein 10g Monofilament Test, and do you administer it on a regular basis to your diabetic patients? Have you noticed significant results in terms of prevention and assessment? We are interested to know about your experiences in diabetic foot testing, so please leave your comments below.

 

Free Download - Neuropathic Foot Exam Guide

Click to download this easy-to-use resource for performing foot examinations.

Dry Skin Alert: Foot Xerosis in Diabetic Patients

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Diabetic wound management requires awareness, including knowing the signs and progression of xerosis – an abnormal dryness of skin.

Xerosis in Diabetic Patients

Patients with diabetes are prone to dry skin, particularly when blood glucose levels are running high. And as a clinician, one of the most common types of skin conditions you will see in your diabetic patients is xerosis, which is an abnormal dryness of the skin. This is just one reason why clinicians should routinely inspect the feet of diabetic patients.

According to research, 82.1% of patients with diabetes had skin with dryness, cracks or fissures, which serves as a predictor of foot lesions. In addition, an unpublished survey of 105 consecutive patients with diabetes revealed that 75% had clinical manifestations of dry skin. This serves as further evidence that xerosis in diabetic patients is a threat to foot ulcers, and the more we know about the condition, the better we can treat and heal our patients.

The Signs

The most common characteristics of xerosis include excessively dry, rough, uneven and cracked skin. Other signs include:

  • Possible raised or uplifted skin edges (scaling), desquamation (flaking), chapping, and pruritus.
  • Excessive dryness and scaling on the heels and feet.
  • Possible fissures (linear cracks in the skin) with hyperkeratotic tissue.

Progression and Patterns

The progression of xerosis follows a defined pattern that begins when the skin becomes dry and rough, with pronounced skin lines. As the condition progresses, you’ll see the development of superficial scaling, with fissuring and erythema. In severe cases, a crisscrossing pattern with superficial scaling is present. The skin becomes less elastic and loses both its flexibility and its ability to withstand trauma, which may result in skin breakdown and subsequent infection.

Causes

A number of conditions contribute to the onset of xerosis in diabetic patients, including the loss of natural moisturizing factors and moisture from the stratum cor­neum and intercellular matrix of the skin. Additionally:

  • Sebaceous and sweat glands normally maintain skin lubrication and control the oil and moisture in the foot, but they become atrophied when autonomic neuropathy occurs.
  • Corneocytes (cells that make up the top layer of epidermis) are aligned parallel to each other in normal skin; xerosis causes structural changes to these cells and disrupts the surface, resulting in a rough epidermal surface.
  • The dryness is due to the redistribution of blood flow in the soles of the feet by persistent and inappropriate dilatation of arteriovenous shunts. This activity diverts blood away from the skin surface. When this occurs in combination with alterations in the elasticity of the skin (due to nonenzymatic glycosylation of structural proteins and glycoproteins), the skin splits, creating portals for bacteria to enter.

Treatment

Once you see initial signs of xerosis in your patients, what should you do? Start by applying an agent to the feet every day in order to maintain skin moisture, such as an emollient lotion or cream. Use moisturizers that contain urea or lactic acid.

  1. Urea works by enhancing the water-binding capacity of the stratum corneum. Long-term treatment with urea has been demonstrated to decrease transepidermal water loss. Urea also is a potent skin humidifier and descaling agent, particularly in 10% concentration.
  2. Lactic acid (in the form of an alpha hydroxy acid) can accelerate softening of the skin, dissolving or peeling the outer layer of the skin to help maintain its capability to hold moisture. Lactic acid in concentrations of 2.5% to 12% is the most common alpha hydroxy acid used for moderate to severe xerosis.
  3. Examples of products with urea or lactic acid include Atrac-Tain Cream, Eucerin 10% Urea Lotion, Lac-Hydrin 12%, and AmLactin Foot Cream Therapy.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid:

  • Products that contain alcohol – because they evaporate, and their drying action compounds the original problem.
  • Petroleum-based products, because they seal the skin surface and prevent what little lubrication is made from evaporating. These products don’t penetrate the surface of the skin and don’t replace skin moisture.

Patient education

As always, part of our job is to continuously educate patients and their family members or caretakers. When it comes to your patients suffering from xerosis, make sure they know to:

  • minimize bathing to no more than once a day (or even every other day)
  • use cool or lukewarm water
  • pat – don’t rub – to dry the skin
  • avoid harsh soaps
  • avoid lotions with dyes or perfumes
  • ensure skin moisturizers are applied appropriately and at the right frequency

What do you think?

Knowing the signs of xerosis and how to treat it is crucial for diabetic patients. Have you had experience with this condition, and are there any specific techniques, treatments or products you find most effective? And what are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to this particular type of wound management? We would love to hear about and learn from your experiences! Please share your stories below.

 

Wound Care Education Institute® provides online and onsite courses in the fields of Skin, Wound, Diabetic and Ostomy Management. Health care professionals who meet the eligibility requirements may sit for the prestigious WCC®, DWC® and OMS national board certification examinations through the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy® (NAWCO®). For more information see wcei.net.

Urgent! Risks and Diagnosis of Diabetic Foot Infections

Friday, January 8th, 2016

For effective diabetic wound management, clinicians must know the risk factors for foot infections, and be able to diagnose them properly – and as soon as possible.

Diabetic Foot Infections

Wound care clinicians deal with foot infections all the time, but when the patient is also diabetic, an infection can progress rapidly to a critical state. In fact, it is estimated that around 56% of diabetic foot ulcers become infected, and an infected foot wound precedes about two-thirds of amputations.  Being able to treat diabetic foot infections promptly – before they progress too far – helps prevent amputations, which is why your role is so crucial to a patient’s well-being.

What are the risk factors?

If you are treating a diabetic patient with a foot infection, there are a number of risk factors to consider. These include:

  • 30-day-old wounds
  • Wounds that go down to the bone
  • Recurrent foot infections
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • An etiology from trauma

In particular, be on high alert with your diabetic patients for what they call an occult (hidden) infection. A diabetic foot ulcer could clearly have an infection, but fail to show any of the classic signs and symptoms that you traditionally look for, like erythema, heat, pain and purulence.

Because a diabetic patient’s immune system is compromised, you might be on the lookout for typical signs but not see any of them at all. This does not mean that an infection isn’t there; only half of diabetic foot ulcer patients will show classic signs, which means we also need to work our patients up for infection.

The best approach? Be persistent and keep looking for more signs, like:

Free Webinar - Diabetic Ulcers

  • Serous exudate (thin, clear, watery)
  • Delay in healing
  • Friable (fragile) granulation tissue
  • Discolored granulation
  • Odor
  • Pocketing in the wound bed

How do we diagnose infection?

Diagnosing infection in any wound, particularly with diabetic patients, is a clinical one (versus a lab diagnosis). So if you ever hear a colleague say, “We’re going to wait for the lab results to see if our patient has a wound infection,” it’s time to stand up and emphatically say, “No!” Why? Because lab results, specifically the swab cultures that are most commonly used, are often inconclusive in the presence of biofilm. Instead of waiting for the results, you need to act immediately.

That’s not to say that lab results aren’t useful. They can sometimes help us confirm infections and target which antibiotic we want to use. But again, most infections are polymicrobial (containing more than one kind of bacteria), and swab cultures don’t pick up everything. We need to use our clinical judgment and supplement with lab and cultures.

The Final Word

As wound care professionals, prevention is obviously our first line of defense against any wound complications from infections. But when caring for diabetic patients, clearly understanding the risk factors for foot infections, and then being able to diagnose conditions as soon as possible, are crucial for effective treatment.

What do you think?

Have you had experience in treating diabetic patients with foot infections? Have you been able to identify the infection in a timely manner? Is there a particular case that was exceptionally challenging or difficult? Please tell us about it, and leave your comments below.

Wild On Wounds Exhibitor Showcase Vendor Spotlight

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Scott_Miller_MPM

MPM Medical Inc. brings to you industry experts for 2 days during the WOW conference in Las Vegas on September 2-5, 2015. They will answer your questions, perform product demonstrations and provide hands on product training.  All of their sales representatives have been trained and certified as Wound Care Market Specialists (CWCMS®) by the Wound Care Education Institute®.  They offer a comprehensive line of hydrogels with lidocaine, foam dressings, moisture barriers, antifungals, calcium alginates, waterproof composite dressings, woundgard bordered gauze pad dressings, multilayer composite dressings, cleansers, saturated gauze pads and collagen and super absorbent dressings.

MPM has published a number of practical reference pieces including a definitive Wound Management Guide, Wound Care Wall Charts and clinical studies.  For information on these educational pieces visit their website at: www.mpmmedicalinc.com

Register for WOW today and stop by the MPM booth #224

WOW_link_button

 

What Will You Gain by Attending WOW?  You Will…

  • Discover what is new in wound care which is essential to your practice
  • Elevate your clinical skills with interactive, advanced, how-to sessions and hands-on workshops
  • Participate in product training with industry experts to advance your knowledge of wound care technologies
  • AND MORE…

Full Conference Registration Includes:

  • Access to educational sessions over 3.5 days
  • Access to product experts during the exhibitor showcase
  • Lunch on each registered day
  • Poolside get-together with a robust buffet
  • FREE cyber cafe to check emails, complete onsite evaluations, etc.
  • Complimentary collectible event T-shirt
  • And more!

WOW2015_600x155_FREE-TICKET_BANNER

REGISTER BY MAY 1ST – PAY BY JUNE 1ST

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

RegisterNowPay_LaterHeaderSave $100 when you register by May 1, 2015  
You’ll get first choice of conference sessions and…
You don’t pay until June 1st!

Industry and Clinical experts will provide training and product demonstrations and will help answer your “hard to heal” wound questions. Join us in Las Vegas, September 2 – 5, 2015 and network with hundreds of passionate wound care clinicians with the same goal in mind, to advance their wound care knowledge.

About WOW

Wild On Wounds is a national conference dedicated to clinicians who want to enhance their knowledge and learn current standards of care in skin and wound care. Attend lecture sessions, participate in hands-on workshops and learn all the new products and technologies from industry experts.

Full Conference Registration Includes:
  • Access to educational sessions over 3.5 days
  • Access to product experts during the exhibitor showcase
  • Lunch on each registered day
  • Poolside get-together with a robust buffet dinner
  • FREE cyber cafe to check emails, complete onsite evaluations, etc.
  • Complimentary collectible event T-shirt
  • And more!

register now    send a brochure

Wild On Wounds Conference Early Registration Savings

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Only_14_days

When you register early, you save $100 and you will have first choice in selecting all conference sessions. The early discount rate expires May 1, 2015.  Register today!

Industry and clinical experts will provide training, product demonstrations and will help answer your “hard to heal” wound questions.

Join us in Las Vegas, September 2-5, 2015 and network with hundreds of passionate wound care clinicians with the same goal in mind, to advance their wound care knowledge.

About WOW

Wild On Wounds is a national conference dedicated to clinicians who want to enhance their knowledge and learn current standards of care in skin and wound care. Attend lecture sessions, participate in hands-on workshops and learn all the new products and technologies from industry experts.

Full Conference Registration Includes:

  • Access to educational sessions over 3.5 days
  • Access to product experts during the exhibitor showcase
  • Lunch on each registered day
  • Poolside get-together with a robust buffet
  • FREE cyber cafe to check emails, complete onsite evaluations, etc
  • Complimentary collectible event T-shirt
  • And more!

course_header2WCEI2015_WCC_BUTTON_rev

WOUND CARE CERTIFICATION – This Wound Care Certified (WCC®) course offers an evidence-based approach to wound management and current standards of practice to keep clinicians legally defensible at bedside.

WCEI2015_DWC_BUTTON_rev

DIABETIC WOUND CERTIFICATION – This Diabetic Wound Certified (DWC®) course takes you through the science of the disease process, focuses on limb salvage and prevention, and covers the unique needs of a diabetic patient.

WCEI2015_OMS_BUTTON_revOSTOMY CERTIFICATION – This Ostomy Management Specialist (OMS) course will take you through the anatomy and physiology of the systems involved in fecal/urinary diversions. The course includes hands-on workshops and online pre-course modules.

 

CLICK HERE FOR COURSE DETAILS

 

Really, How Important is that Monofilament Test?

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Neuropathy is one of the most common risk factors for lower extremity complications in our diabetic patients. With sensory neuropathy the patient has a loss of protective sensation that leads to a decrease in the ability for our diabetic patient to sense pain and temperature changes. This loss of protective sensation puts the patient at an increased risk for plantar foot injury. Unfortunately the patient may not feel the injury until significant complications have occurred.

The American Diabetes Association set up guidelines for us as healthcare professionals, these guidelines recommend screening in diabetic patients for neuropathy to check for loss of protective sensation on an annual basis, one way this can be done by doing the Semmes Weinstein Monofilament test. If the patient is found to have decreased sensation and is found to be at high risk the monofilament test should then be done quarterly.

The Semmes Weinstein 10g Monofilament is a test that checks for protective sensation in the diabetic foot.  It uses a 5.07 monofilament that exerts 10 grams of force when bowed into a C-shape against the skin for one second.  We don’t apply the filament directly to the ulcer site, callous, scar or necrotic tissue. Ask the patient to close their eyes during the exam and tell them to reply “yes” when the monofilament is felt, repeat without touching skin occasionally to be sure of patients response. Be sure to use random order on successive tests.

Areas to be tested include the dorsal midfoot, plantar aspect of the foot including pulp (fleshy mass on the distal plantar aspect) of the first, third, and fifth digits, the first, third and fifth metatarsal heads, the medial and lateral midfoot and at the calcaneus.  Record the results on the screening form, noting a “+” for sensation felt and a “-” for no sensation felt. The patient is said to have an “insensate foot” if they fail on retesting at just one or more sites on either foot.

Those patients who cannot feel the application of the monofilament to designated sites on the plantar surface of their feet have lost their “protective sensation”. Without this protective sensation the diabetic is now at increased for injury or ulceration. Neuropathy is usually noted in the first and third toes and then progresses to the first and third metatarsal heads.

Injury is much more likely to occur in the diabetic insensate foot at these areas and interventions must be implemented to protect the diabetic foot that is at risk for ulceration. Patient education and good “shoe fit assessment” will be part of our plan of care to protect the diabetic neuropathic patients foot.

 

Diabetic Patient Education

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Patient education plays a vital role in positive outcomes for our diabetic patient. Diabetic patients need to understand the importance of proper foot care and importance of good blood glucose control to maintain the integrity of their feet.

So what do our patients need to know? They need to work closely with their physician and the dietician to be sure their blood glucose levels are properly controlled. foot_mirror_between_toesThe ADA recommends an A1c below 7%.  They need to know how important it is to check their feet daily to catch any problems early. We as clinicians need to teach them how to do this and what to look for. Teach your diabetic patients to inspect their feet everyday. They can do this by having family members or caregivers check their feet, or they can use a mirror and do it themselves.

Explain to your patients what exactly they are looking for; cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, infected toenails, blisters, calluses, cracks, excessive dryness or any other abnormality. They should check all surfaces of the feet and toes carefully, at the same time each and every day. Explain to your patients to call their physician right away if they notice any abnormalities or any open areas. Other problems the diabetic patient should be aware of with their feet and report to their physician include tingling or burning sensation, pain in the feet, cracks in the skin, a change in the shape of their foot, or lack of sensation – they might not feel warm, cold, or touch. The patient should be aware that any of the above could potentially lead to diabetic foot ulcers.

Instruct your patients to wash their feet every day, but not soak their feet. Use warm, NOT hot water – be sure they check the water temperature with a thermometer or shoe_fittheir elbow. Dry feet well, especially between toes. Apply lotion on the tops and bottoms of their feet but not between toes. Trim toenails each week and as needed after bath / shower, trim nails straight across with clippers, smooth edges with emery board.

Wear socks and shoes at all times, the diabetic patient should never be barefoot, even indoors. Have them check their shoes prior to wearing, be sure there are no objects inside and the lining is smooth.  Instruct them to wear shoes that protect their feet; athletic shoes or walking shoes that are leather are best, be sure they fit their feet appropriately and accommodate the foot width and any foot deformities.

For our diabetic patients, glucose control is a key factor in keeping them healthy, but patient education and understanding of proper foot inspection and what findings to report to their physician are just as important for the well being of our diabetic patient.

Free Webinar “How-To: Diabetic Foot Exam Made Easy”. Use Promo Code: DFOOT  through 12/31/15.