Patient Education

Ulcers

Ulcers are persistent wounds or sores that do not heal properly or become chronic. Ulcers on the feet occur mainly due to reduced nerve sensation, poor circulation, vein dysfunction, and constant pressure to a particular spot. Diabetics are prone to foot ulcers. Ulcers may or may not cause pain and can be accompanied by swelling, discomfort, redness, itching, burning, and irritation.

Foot ulcers can crop up due to metatarsal deformities that impact the bottom of the foot, exposing particular spots to constant pressure that causes the skin to callus, separate, and possibly become infected. For bed-ridden patients, foot ulcers can form on the backs of the heels due to constant pressure on the skin from the bed.

Ulcers have four stages of severity that are based on how deeply the wound or sore penetrates through the skin:

  • The first stage of ulcers involves redness and irritation that occur where bones protrude or constant pressure is applied. The affected area’s skin may stay red even after pressure to the spot is alleviated. There may be accompanying discomfort and pain.
  • The second stage of ulcers involves the top two layers of skin. Blistering, peeling, and cracking skin are signs of stage two ulcers. Tenderness and pain are felt in the area of the ulcer.
  • The third stage of ulcers involves deeper penetration in skin breakdown. The tissue between the skin and muscle are affected, and broken, bleeding skin appears. At this point, pain may diminish because of more severe tissue damage.
  • The fourth stage of ulcers involves even deeper penetration of damaged tissue, pervading all the way to the muscle, tendon, and bone. It can result in bone or blood infections. Again, the damaged tissue may not generate pain or discomfort.

Ulcers should be treated by a doctor who can properly evaluate, diagnose, and treat any underlying medical conditions, as well as properly care for the wound to prevent infection.

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