What Are Foot Ulcers?

Foot ulcer is a term that is used to reference an open sore that forms on or near one or both of your feet. They may form on the bottom of the foot, the toes, the top of the foot or even the lower region of the leg. In mild cases, they generally are superficial and affect only the top layer of the skin on the foot. In more severe cases, they may extend to reach all layers of the skin and affect the bones and tendons. When you have a foot ulcer, you are at high risk of infection, which can lead to severe consequences, such as abscesses, skin infections, bone infections and gangrene.

Causes of Foot Ulcers

Foot ulcers are most commonly associated with illnesses or structural abnormalities with the feet. Those with diabetes and circulatory disorders often have compromised circulation and damaged nerves in the feet, which makes them more susceptible to foot ulcers. If you have structural abnormalities of the feet, including severe arthritis or fractures, you may also be at risk for foot ulcers if you are not careful to take preventative measures. In many cases, these existing conditions alone will not cause you to develop foot ulcers. However, they can cause a small cut or crack to turn into an ulcer.

Treatment of Foot Ulcers

As a foot ulcer is a visible injury, your doctor will generally be able to diagnose the condition after a short physical examination. The treatment your doctor will suggest may vary depending on whether you have an existing condition along with other key factors, such as the severity of the ulcer and whether there is an infection. To treat the ulcer itself, your doctor will likely use a process known as debridement to remove dead tissue and calluses. Afterwards, a bandage will be applied, and you may be given protective footwear and antibiotics. You must be sure to keep the ulcer clean, bandaged and protected after treatment to ensure healing.

Foot Ulcer Prevention

To prevent the recurrence of foot ulcers, it is crucial to take proper care of your feet. Be sure that you are regularly inspecting your feet for small cracks, corns or calluses and properly addressing these problems when spotted. Likewise, you must be diligent in ensuring that you are wearing loose-fitting shoes and dry socks at all times. Ultimately, if you have underlying health conditions, you will also need to ensure that you are taking prescribed medications and following your doctor’s orders to keep foot ulcers at bay.