In people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar can cause a chain reaction that leads to nonhealing or slow-healing wounds.
When a healthy person gets a wound — such as a blister on the foot — they notice it because of the pain, the wound is treated and covered, and it usually begins healing within a few days or weeks. When someone has diabetes, however, that whole process can stall. High blood sugar can lead to a dangerous combination of health issues that can delay treatment and complicate the healing process.
Complications of Diabetes
Nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy can cause pain, tingling or numbness, which makes it difficult to feel sensations or notice pain, so wounds may go unnoticed for days, weeks or even months. Because the immune system can be compromised as a result of the disease, an infection may occur that the white blood cells cannot efficiently fight. High blood sugar can also harden and narrow the arteries, creating circulation issues that delay oxygen-rich blood from reaching the wound.
If a wound hasn’t started improving within two weeks or hasn’t completely healed in six weeks, it’s time to call in a professional. Your primary care provider (PCP) can help you begin the healing process and may recommend additional treatment from a wound care specialist.