A foot ulcer is an open sore that does not heal or keeps coming back. Understanding your risk factors and how to care for your feet can help you identify and treat foot ulcers before they lead to serious complications.
There are various risk factors for developing foot ulcers. For example:
- Advanced age
- Circulation issues or vascular disease
- Poor-fitting shoes that rub or are tight
- Diabetes or diabetic neuropathy
- Heart or kidney disease
- Use of alcohol and/or tobacco
- Nerve damage
- Wounded feet or a deformity such as a bunion or hammertoe
- Past history of foot ulcers or amputation
Types of Foot Ulcers
There are three types of foot ulcers. The type depends on where the ulcer is located and how it appears. The types are:
- Arterial. These ulcers are found all over the feet in those who have poor circulation.
- Neurotropic. These ulcers occur on the bottom of the feet in those who are diabetic.
- Venous. These ulcers are found in the legs below the knee area and are common in those with past leg swelling and vein conditions.
Preventing a Foot Ulcer
There are a variety of ways to prevent developing ulcers on your feet and to not only treat but maintain proper foot health. Those who are at risk of developing foot ulcers due to diabetes or other health issues should take extra precautions. You will want to make sure that you seek treatment as soon as possible so that the ulcer can heal. Diabetic foot ulcers can easily become infected and lead to further complications.
Diabetics, as well as those with higher risks, can learn to recognize any issues with their feet in order to avoid major complications. Here are some foot care tips:
- Inspect the feet daily to take note of any changes or wounds. Pay close attention to areas in between your toes and on the bottoms of your feet.
- Clean feet daily and moisturize to prevent cracks and dryness, which can turn into an ulcer.
- Wear socks that fit properly and supportive shoes.
- Trim toenails straight across and treat any ingrown toenails immediately.
- Avoid using harsh soaps, hot baths, and heating pads on your feet.
Making lifestyle changes can also help in preventing foot ulcers. For example, changes such as stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet to control weight, and maintaining your blood sugar level and blood pressure are all ways to help in prevention.
An untreated foot ulcer can lead to severe complications, including amputation. Be sure to tell your podiatrist of any sores that do not heal, increase in size, or become infected.
Your podiatrist will determine the best treatment method for your ulcer. Healing depends on the size and location of the ulcer as well as your current health. Some treatments for foot ulcers are:
- Cleaning the area with a saline rinse
- Dressing the ulcer with a bandage and keeping it moist
- Applying topical medication to the ulcer
- Taking an antibiotic if the ulcer is infected
- Wearing a cast or shoe to take pressure off of the ulcer
In more severe cases, a skin graft or surgery may be required. Since every person is different, treatment may vary. Your podiatrist will examine and evaluate your condition to recommend a personalized treatment.
Are You in Need of an Experienced and Caring Podiatrist?
If you're experiencing an ulcer or sore on your foot or any type of foot pain, you should speak with an experienced podiatrist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appointment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office, please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office, please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.