Get the Facts on Foot Ulcers
Foot ulcers can develop into serious wounds and can even lead to the loss of a limb. This is why it is important to adequately treat every cut, callus and blister you sustain because they have the potential to develop into these serious foot ulcers. Here is some information about identifying, preventing and treating foot ulcers.
Who’s at Risk?
People who suffer from chronic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, nerve damage from alcoholism, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and those with vascular issues can all be at risk of developing foot ulcers. However, the group that is most at risk are those with diabetes. This is because diabetics often suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage that numbs the extremities to cold, heat and pain.
Because of peripheral neuropathy, diabetics may sustain foot wounds that they are unable to feel and therefore do not treat. Walking around on untreated wounds will often cause them to become foot ulcers. Peripheral neuropathy can also cause the feet to become deformed. Putting deformed feet in normal shoes can cause blisters and calluses that may also develop into ulcers. In addition, diabetics often have poor blood circulation to their legs and feet and, without proper nourishment, the feet are unable to heal themselves of infections.
Identifying foot Ulcers
Foot ulcers are red sores found commonly on the balls of the feet or underneath the big toe. If they are infected, they will also produce pus and omit a bad odor. If left untreated, these sores can develop gangrene and your foot will eventually need amputation. For this reason, it is imperative to see a podiatrist if you suspect that you have a foot ulcer so you can be properly diagnosed and treated.
Preventing Foot Ulcers
- Inspect your feet regularly for cuts, blisters and calluses that can turn into ulcers.
- Keep your feet clean and well-hydrated.
- Exercise regularly, this improves your circulation.
- Keep your toenails trimmed properly.
- Don’t go barefoot because it leaves your feet vulnerable to harm.
- Don’t smoke because it weakens your immune system.
Treating Foot Ulcers
Cleansing and Debridement
Your doctor will cleanse the ulcer and remove any dead or dying tissue from the wound. An ointment that promotes healing may be added to the wound before your doctor bandages it.
Stay off Your Feet
Your foot may be put in a cast or protective boot. It is best to stay off your feet as much as possible while you are healing.
Assisted Wound Care
A foot care professional will have to inspect your ulcer once a week until it is fully healed. In addition, a visiting nurse will help dress your wound.
It is critical for diabetics to develop a good relationship with their podiatrists. Most diabetics will require regular care to assure that small problems will not develop into major issues.
Now that you know some facts about foot ulcers, be sure to reach out to a foot care professional if you suspect you have one. If you have any further questions about identifying, preventing or treating foot ulcers or want to book an appointment at the Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center, feel free to reach out to us.