Skip to main content


All stories

Q: What is a diabetic foot ulcer?

A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore found below the ankle, usually located on the bottom of the foot. It usually starts with a foot injury, such as a cut or blister, and can linger for weeks without improvement. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, diabetic ulcers affect approximately 15-25% of people with diabetes.

Without treatment, ulcers can be life-threatening, because infectious bacteria can damage your skin and kill your tissues. It can also infect your blood stream or cause a bone infection, both of which can lead to sepsis.

If you have diabetes, or help care for someone with diabetes, it’s important to understand what a diabetic foot ulcer is and how to care for a foot injury to avoid an ulcer.

If you are diabetic, make sure to control your blood sugar levels and monitor your feet daily for any change or injury. Seek treatment as soon as possible. Longer wait times drastically reduce your chances to heal, so the sooner you can see a physician about your need, the better.

Some behaviors also make foot ulcers more likely to develop. Alcohol consumption, poorly trimmed toenails, tobacco use, poor hygiene and wearing poorly fitted shoes (ones without enough cushioning or room for your toes) can promote ulcer formation.

If you have developed a foot ulcer, wound care is essential. Maui Memorial Medical Center Wound Care and Hyperbaric Therapy provides comprehensive wound care treatments including two hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) chambers – the only chambers available in state outside of Oahu. For more information about our wound care team or to schedule an appointment, call 808-986-4500 or visit