Foot ulcers form as a result of skin tissue breaking down and exposing the layers underneath. They’re most common under your big toes and the balls of your feet, and they can affect your feet down to the bones. 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. Patients with diabetes are more prone to ulcers and should seek medical attention immediately. Ulcers may or may not cause pain and can be accompanied by swelling, discomfort, redness, itching, burning, and irritation.
An ulcer, whether caused by diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, trauma, or another reason, can increase the chances of an infection. Some infections may even spread to the bone which can lead to amputation. Early detection is key when dealing with foot ulcers.
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. At Cornerstone Foot & Ankle our doctors are trained and highly educated on healing chronic ulcers. If you think you may have a foot or ankle ulcer call now to schedule your appointment!