Foot wounds aren’t uncommon—ask anyone who’s ever stepped on a Lego or scraped their bare foot on the sidewalk. Whether from sports injuries or normal activities, your feet are subjected to dangers every day, and any foot wound can become infected quickly. That’s particularly concerning for diabetic patients. Our podiatrists discuss the warning signs of a foot infection and possible treatment options.
Types of Common Foot Infections
Infections in the feet and ankles typically involve some kind of trauma to those areas, such as stepping on a sharp object, scraping your heel, or dropping a heavy object on your foot. Any type of foot wound can lead to infection if that wound isn’t treated properly. Our podiatrists discuss some common foot wounds and why they become infected:
- Cuts and scrapes from sports injuries or other physical activity need to be cleaned and disinfected right away. If not, these lacerations or abrased areas can result in a bacterial infection.
- Blisters from wearing the wrong size or type of shoe frequently become infected if they aren’t treated properly. Changing footwear or adding insoles to your shoes can help.
- Diabetic ulcers that frequently appear at the ball of the foot or beneath the large toe may easily become bigger problems if they aren’t treated immediately.
- Fungal infections can occur between your toes, even if there was no wound at all. You don’t need to suffer a cut or an abrasion for this particularly unpleasant type of infection to occur.
- Ingrown toenails can result in bacterial infections just like any other foot injury. It’s important to see a podiatrist if you have a painful ingrown nail.
Diabetes can play a major role in foot health, and that’s especially true for infected wounds. Patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes need to pay close attention to their feet. If you’ve suffered nerve damage in your feet from diabetes, it’s possible you won’t even feel the pain that would normally indicate an infection. That’s why daily inspections are a must for anyone with diabetes.
Foot Wound Infections: Warning Signs and Possible Treatments
While a foot wound isn’t always a major problem, an infection can spread and make it significantly worse. Checking your feet for problems, even if you haven’t suffered an injury, is extremely important. Specific warning signs of an infection include:
- Discoloration of the skin
- Fever and chills
- Pus or any kind of fluid leaking from the wounded area of the foot
- Swelling in your foot or ankle area
- Temperature change—a warmer-than-normal sensation when you touch your foot
- Toenails that change color entirely or have discolored spots
If you notice these symptoms, it’s crucial to act quickly instead of waiting to see if your wound gets better. The consequences of an untreated foot infection can be dire and life-changing; however, the solution could be a simple, conservative step, such as changing your shoes to avoid harming pressure points on your feet.
Of course, that option won’t always solve the problem, and you may need a more aggressive form of treatment. An experienced podiatrist may recommend any of the following treatments for an infection:
- Biologics treatment for slow-healing wounds
- Customized orthotics to avoid blisters and give your feet the support they need for your specific daily activity
- Laser therapy to reduce pain and accelerate the foot’s natural healing process
- Prescription antibiotics, which could be oral or topical
- Foot surgery in more extreme cases