Learn more about pressure ulcers and the symptoms and treatment options.
Pressure ulcers occur because of too much pressure on one part of your foot. When a corn or callus presses into the skin, it damages inner layers of skin and fat and creates an open wound on your foot. The most susceptible areas for ulcers on the foot are the ball of the foot, the big toe, and the heel.
- Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk to develop foot ulcers, and it is the most common reason for hospital stays in diabetics
- A reduced sensation to the feet, caused by peripheral neuropathy (PN), or a narrowing of the arteries to the feet can both lead to pressure ulcers because of limited sensation of the feet and poor blood flow
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Symptoms of pressure ulcers will happen gradually as pressure on your foot causes an ulcer. In cases where you may have reduced sensation in your feet, it is important to examine your feet daily to see if any changes or damage are occurring. Symptoms of foot ulcers include:
- Red ‘hot’ spots on the foot
- Thickened skin on the foot
- Open wound on the ball of foot, big toe, or heel
- Bone or joint problems in the foot
- Possible reduced sensation in foot
Foot ulcers usually respond well to treatment, but they can take longer to heal if you have poor circulation to your feet or if there is a serious infection. It is important to see a doctor immediately if you believe you have a foot ulcer. Reducing symptoms can be accomplished by:
- Covering the ulcer with a protective dressing – Your podiatrist will examine, clean and dress your wound.
- Wearing special shoes or a cast to keep pressure off the ulcer.
- Antibiotics – Medication may be necessary if the ulcer becomes infected.
- Surgery – If infection is severe, an operation to drain and clear tissue may be needed.