The diabetic foot

Clin Dermatol. 2007 Jan-Feb;25(1):109-20. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2006.09.015.


Diabetic foot problems are common throughout the world, resulting in major medical, social and economic consequences for the patients, their families, and society. Foot ulcers are more likely to be of neuropathic origin, and therefore eminently preventable. People at greatest risk of ulceration can easily be identified by careful clinical examination of the feet: education and frequent follow-up is indicated for these patients. When infection complicates a foot ulcer, the combination can be limb or life-threatening. Infection is defined clinically, but wound cultures assist in identifying the causative pathogens. Tissue specimens are strongly preferred to wound swabs for wound cultures. Antimicrobial therapy should be guided by culture results, and although such therapy may cure the infection, it does not heal the wound. Alleviation of the mechanical load on ulcers (offloading) should always be a part of treatment. Plantar neuropathic ulcers typically heal in 6 weeks with irremovable casting, because pressure at the ulcer site is mitigated and compliance is enforced. The success of other approaches to offloading similarly depends on the patients' adherence to the effectiveness of pressure relief.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Foot* / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Foot* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Foot* / etiology
  • Diabetic Foot* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Wound Healing