Anyone can develop a foot ulcer and they can range greatly in seriousness, from inflammation of the skin to very extensive sores that can become increasingly large and very deep. Once they become established it is very hard to heal them completely and many people who suffer from diabetes or vascular diseases often have a hard time dealing with foot ulcers.
The most common reason for developing a foot ulcer comes from a poor control of one’s diabetes, heart disease or vascular disease. The ulcer occurs as a result of poor oxygenation of the foot tissues. This is common because the feet are the parts of the body that are furthest from the heart and therefore receive blood last. Ulcers can be of an arterial or venous origin and each of them have their own physiological causes.
Usually, arterial ulcers are caused by the narrowing of arteries in the lower extremities, usually due to smoking, obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease. All of these things lower oxygen levels in the blood. Venous ulcers are caused by a poor functioning of the valves within the veins of the lower leg or foot. If the valves do not work properly, blood collects and thickens within the vessel. Trauma, infection, nerve damage, and tumors can also result in foot ulcers. It is important to find out what the underlying cause of the foot ulcer is in order to treat it correctly and effectively.
In the early stages of a foot ulcer, there might be a slight discoloration of the skin, sometimes with a light blue or gray tinge. Venous ones usually begin with foot and lower leg swelling. As the ulcer progresses, the skin can begin to break down and deteriorate until the deep layers of the tissue are affected. There are many treatments that are available, but they all depend on what is causing the foot ulcer. It is important, therefore, to see a doctor, who will confirm what the cause is and then prescribe the appropriate treatment.
It is best to keep the foot elevated when resting. It should be above the heart level in order to allow fluids to drain away so that the swelling can subside. The best way to prevent foot ulcers is to be sensible about one’s lifestyle. Stopping smoking, beginning to eating healthy and keeping weight regular are the best precautions to take. One tip is to stop crossing the legs when sitting down, because this can damage veins and cause blood pools.
Another important thing to do is take care of the foot’s hygiene regularly and to wear comfortable shoes that will decrease the chances of developing injuries or infections on the feet that could lead to an ulcer.