Foot ulcers are the most common reason that people with diabetes are hospitalized. Foot ulcers are sores on feet that may involve just the skin’s surface or they can develop into more serious wounds, which may lead to bone infections. Leg and foot ulcers are especially problematic for people with nerve damage, vascular disease, and sickle cell anemia. However, diabetes is the most common cause of ulcers.
Those with diabetes are at increased risk of developing an ulcer for two main reasons. The first is peripheral neuropathy. This common complication of diabetes involves a general loss of feeling. The nerves lose their ability to detect pain, heat, and cold. If the foot is injured, nerve damage may prevent one from noticing the injury. Poor circulation is the other main reason that diabetics develop ulcers. Blood increases in viscosity (thickness), slowing its flow, therefore, causing poor circulation in the extremities.
A foot ulcer may appears like a red sore, most commonly found on the ball of the foot or under the big toe. If the wound is infected, pus and a bad odor typically occur. It is important to see a podiatrist as soon as an ulcer is noticed. Untreated foot ulcers can progress into gangrene and may lead to amputation. Treatments for foot ulcers depend on the severity of the wound. This typically involves debridement, off-loading, and dressings. Debridement is the process of removing dead skin and tissue. Off-loading uses pads or special shoes to take pressure off the ulcer area. Proper dressing and bandages are important to protect the area and provide an optimal healing environment. Ulcers may take weeks or even several months to heal. This depends on the general health of the patient and the severity of the wound.
To have your feet evaluated for foot ulcers or any other painful foot and ankle condition call 843-449-FOOT.