More than 25 million Americans across the country experience a wide variety of complications and side effects associated with diabetes. One of the lesser discussed ramifications of the disease is the development of problematic wounds that affect 15 percent of patients

Diabetic lacerations are defined as any damage discovered on the skin stemming from the condition. While these afflictions can range in severity, the healing process largely depends on how well you have your diabetes under control. The type of injuries that can be endured are typically categorized in the following ways:

  • Acute: Generally irritations to the skin that occur abruptly and normally heal at expected rates. Symptoms include rashes, swelling and bleeding.
  • Chronic: More threatening, and can stay in the inflammatory stages of healing for extended periods of time. Infections and ulcers are common examples of chronic wounds.
  • Depth: Tissue damage that has penetrated the top layer of skin, but has yet to afflict the deepest epidermal layers. Signs include spontaneous blisters and scrapes. 
  • Cause or origin: Usually associated with pressure ulcers, which causes pressure on the skin and reduces blood flow. Surgery is often necessary for treatment.

Side effects of diabetic wounds

The high levels of glucose found in the bloodstream of diabetic patients lowers the body's ability to properly care for infections and skin lesions. Recognizing complications early on is essential in preventing potential consequences such as immune system failure or amputation. Here are the most common symptoms associated with diabetes:

  • Neuropathy: A nerve disorder that can occur in any organ of the body, typically resulting in numbness or loss of feeling. Over 60 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy.
  • Foot ulcers: Open sores forming along the bottom of feet that is found in 15 percent of all cases of diabetes.
  • Arterial ulcers: A painful form of tissue damage caused by poor blood circulation. Normally found around your ankles and features a "punched out" appearance that without proper care can result in blocked arteries or gangrene development.
  • Venous ulcers: A disease in the veins that usually appears along the inner leg. Results in swelling, pigment loss and expansion of capillary loops.
  • Pressure ulcers: An area of skin that breaks down due to reduced blood flow, generally brought on through extended periods of immobility or tight clothes and shoes.

Treating diabetic wounds

Keeping your glucose levels in check is the best way to help prevent further damage from occurring. Diabetics should be concerned over any signs of injury to the skin, no matter how small. If blisters or gashes are spotted, rinse immediately. Using soap or hydrogen peroxide may increase irritation, so only cleanse with prescribed antibiotic ointments. Cover the opening with dressings or sterile bandages and make sure to change any coverings daily. Keep pressure away from any cuts or swellings, especially on your feet, and quickly notify your doctor about any injuries you sustain.

Is wound care treatment covered through Medicare?

Medicare will cover  treatments only if they are considered medically necessary by your doctor. Medicare Part B will cover 80 percent of the costs needed for wound care medical supplies such as dressings, drainage kits and therapy pumps. Beneficiaries will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent. If you are enrolled in a Medigap/Medicare Supplemental Insurance program, call to discuss any inquiries or to learn if your individual plan will cover any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Qualifying for wound care treatment

A documented order from your doctor is needed to process any supplies necessary for wound care treatment. Service can be accommodated if you provide evidence of any combination of the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammation
  • Infection

Ignoring the symptoms of diabetes can be a potentially fatal mistake. If you're experiencing any of the side effects mentioned above, consult your physician today to discuss plausible treatment options for diabetic lacerations.