Most healthy adults may not pay much attention to minor cuts, burns, and scrapes, as they would generally cause little discomfort and ultimately heal without any consequences.
However, for those living with diabetes, things may turn ugly. Even minor cuts or burns may slowly turn into non-healing wounds. Even worse, it may quickly get infected. Infection may spread to nearby soft tissues and may ultimately cause gangrene, potentially leading to amputation.
Diabetes is the number one cause of non-traumatic amputations, and many of those cases start with minor cuts and wounds.
Those Living With Diabetes Might Not Notice Minor Cuts and Burns
There is a strong recommendation for those living with moderate to severe diabetes to regularly inspect their body parts, especially their feet. The reason is that many individuals living with diabetes may not even feel minor cuts, burns, or scrapes.
Some living with diabetes may not even be aware that they have compromised sensation to pain stimuli. Although about half of all those living with diabetes are aware of their neuropathies, a large number of individuals are not aware of their situation.
Usually, those living with diabetes would annually undergo tests for neuropathy. Nonetheless, since most have only mild neuropathy, they may not give much attention to the condition until they realize that they have a severe wound.
The Consequences Of Untimely Care of Minor Cuts and Burns Can Be Severe
Most individuals find it hard to believe how a minor cut may become a cause for amputation or even life-threatening in some cases. Regretfully, many learn it the hard way. That is why researchers think that all those living with diabetes must be aware of the risks.
Data shows that in a developed nation like the US, almost 200,000 non-traumatic amputations occur each year, most of which are due to diabetes. It means that every day about 230 people get amputated in the US. And even worst, many had a chance to prevent it, but they did not avail, as they failed to take timely care of their minor cut, wound, or burn. If that is not enough, the number of cases of diabetes is rising, and so are the instances of amputations. 1
It would be wrong to see amputation as the only severe consequence of not caring for minor skin issues. Even more problematic is the persistence of chronic non-healing ulcers. And again, most of them develop due to infection of minor cuts and bruises. In many cases, they were even neglected by individuals.
Studies show numerous reasons why minor cuts and burns won’t heal or get infected in diabetes. The most important reasons are that in those living with diabetes, there is poor peripheral blood flow and compromised immune responses. Moreover, in diabetes, most anabolic processes are compromised due to widespread metabolic changes in the body. 2,3
Thus, those living with diabetes should take even the minutest of scratches seriously. Immediate application of topical creams or ointments may boost healing and prevent infections.
- Diabetic Amputations May Be Rising in the United States. AJMC. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://www.ajmc.com/view/diabetic-amputations-may-be-rising-in-the-united-states
- Hirsch T, Spielmann M, Zuhaili B, et al. Enhanced susceptibility to infections in a diabetic wound healing model. BMC Surg. 2008;8(1):5. doi:10.1186/1471-2482-8-5
- Poor immune response impairs diabetic wound healing. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Published September 28, 2020. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/poor-immune-response-impairs-diabetic-wound-healing