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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FOOT ULCER

01. Jan


“A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot”, the doctor explained to I and dare as we sat listening to him feeling tensed, he held my hands for re-assurance and I felt safe, “it can be very deep, it may involve tendons, bones and other deep structures. It may involve tendons, bones and other deep structures like in her case, it’s as a result of diabetes” “really doctor?” my darey asked, all I could think of was where, how and why is all this happening now to john who is such a nice guy… “It can be difficult to heal a foot ulcer´ the doctor continued, seemingly in a hurry to explain the details so he could move on to other patients. In people with these conditions, even a small foot ulcer can become infected if it does not heal quickly.

If an infection occurs in an ulcer and is not treated right away, it can develop into:

  • An abscess (a pocket of pus)
  • A spreading infection of the skin and underlying fat (cellulitis)
  • A bone infection (osteomyelitis)
  • Gangrene. Gangrene is an area of dead, darkened body tissue caused by poor blood flow.

Foot ulcers are especially common in people who have one or more of the following health problems:

Peripheral neuropathy. This is nerve damage in the feet or lower legs. People with this can no longer warn about pain or discomfort.

Circulatory problems. Any illness that reduces circulation to the feet can cause foot ulcers. Because less blood reaches the feet, This makes the skin more vulnerable to injury. And it slows the foot's ability to heal.

Abnormalities in the bones or muscles of the feet. Any condition that distorts the normal anatomy of the foot can lead to foot ulcers. This is particularly true if the foot is forced into shoes that don't fit the foot's altered shape. 

Symptoms

  • Red hole/opening in the skin
  • If the nerves in the foot are functioning normally, then the ulcer will be painful.
  • They are usually located on the side or bottom of the foot or on the top or tip of a toe.
    • Swelling, discoloration, and warmth around the wound
    • Foul-smelling discharge seeping from the wound
    • Pain and firmness when the wound is touched
    • Callused or thickened skin surrounding the ulcer
    • Fever and chills in advanced stages of foot ulcers

Treatments

Unless treated promptly, diabetic foot ulcers may cause complications that include cellulitis, osteomyelitis (bone infections), and gangrene. Advanced foot ulcers often require wound debridement, a process that carefully removes dead tissue. We as doctors perform debridement in various ways one of which is probing the wound to determine the size of the ulcer. Your doctor may also recommend at-home diabetic foot ulcer treatments that include:

  • Keeping the ulcer dry and covered with appropriate wound dressings
  • Maintaining proper blood glucose levels to facilitate healing
  • Cleaning the ulcer each day with appropriate topical ointments
  • Avoiding excessive walking on your ulcerated foot
  • Wearing loose-fitting shoes made of soft suede or leather with laces or Velcro fasteners
  • Wearing socks that contain extra padding for protection