Foot ulcers are caused by a combination of internal and external factors. An ulcer is initially triggered by an external trauma – so anyone can get a foot ulcer. However, ulcers are more likely to develop if your immune system is weakened. Chronic health conditions and poor lifestyle choices can weaken the immune system and slow down the skin’s regeneration process.
Unfortunately, if your skin is slow to heal, this leaves it susceptible to infection. To prevent infection, targeted treatments should enable ulcerated skin to heal as fast as possible.
In this guide, we’ll explore the range of interventions available – from home treatments to invasive medical procedures. We’ll also discuss the preventative steps you should take to stop foot ulcers returning.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Treatments for Foot Ulcers
- 1.1 What Are Skin Ulcers?
- 1.2 How to Identify a Foot Ulcer
- 1.3 Why Do Ulcers Often Occur on the Feet?
- 1.4 Are Foot Ulcers Painful?
- 1.5 Will My Foot Ulcer Get Worse?
- 1.6 Why do Foot Ulcers Smell?
- 1.7 Are Foot Ulcers Cancerous?
- 1.8 Are Foot Ulcers Contagious?
- 1.9 What Are the Common Causes of Foot Ulcers?
- 1.10 Neuropathic Foot Ulcers
- 1.11 Venous Ulcers in Feet and Ankles
- 1.12 Diabetic Foot Ulcers
- 1.13 What are Pressure Ulcers?
- 1.14 Can Shoes Cause Foot Ulcers?
- 1.15 Can Stress Cause Foot Ulcers?
- 2 Can I Treat a Foot Ulcer at Home?
- 3 Medical Interventions for Foot Ulcers
Treatments for Foot Ulcers
If you’ve developed a single, shallow ulcer, there are a number of conservative treatments you could try. However, if your ulcers are deep and very painful – or you have an underlying health condition – your treatment should be guided by a podiatrist.
Treatment will involve a combination of the following:
- Clean and Dress the Skin – This is the most vital step to prevent infection, reduce wound odor, and promote healing.
- Reduce Friction and Pressure – ‘Off-loading’ means shifting pressure off the feet. This can be tricky if you are an active person, but it is necessary for recovery. If your ulcer is shallow, your ‘downtime’ should be relatively short.
- Compression Therapy – Foot ulcers are often accompanied by an Edema (swelling). Compression therapy can reduce the swelling and speed up the skins healing process.
- Pain Management – Ulcers can be extremely painful, so medication may be required to manage the pain. This should be discussed with your doctor to select the most appropriate form of pain relief.
- Diet and Lifestyle Changes – The chronic conditions associated with foot ulcers are often (though not always) caused by a poor diet, smoking, and being overweight. Certain lifestyle changes may improve healing time and prevent ulcers occurring in the future.
- Medical Interventions – In many cases, foot ulcers will require medical intervention. A highly effective treatment for foot ulcers is manual debridement. Your doctor can also prescribe antibiotics if an infection has taken hold.
As you can see, there are many remedies available to tackle foot ulcers, so treatment should not be avoided.
What Are Skin Ulcers?
Skin Ulcers are crater-shaped sores on the skin. Small, shallow ulcers affect the outermost layer of the skin, and can often be treated at home. However, if deeper layers of skin become ulcerated (such as the epidermis and subcutaneous layers) medical intervention will be required.
According to Wounds Research, 70% of foot ulcers indicate an underlying condition, such as venous insufficiency (poor blood circulation), diabetes (nerve or circulation issues), or neuropathy (poor nerve functioning).
It is not the underlying condition that causes the wound. Rather, the underlying condition makes it difficult for the skin to heal after an external trauma. Many types of ‘trauma’ are responsible for causing a foot ulcer.
It’s important to remember, foot ulcers are not always a sign of chronic disease.
How to Identify a Foot Ulcer
Wounds on the feet are very common, so ulcers are often mistaken for other foot conditions – particularly when they first emerge. In fact, foot ulcers tend to develop in predictable stages.
Being aware of these stages will allow you to intervene as early as possible:
- Inflammation and Itching – Skin becomes inflamed, red or purple, and there may be a deep itch or ache under the skin. It’s common for foot ulcers to appear on the ball of the foot, the sides of the foot, or at the ankles. Ulcers on the ankles often signal poor vein health.
- Blistering – The skin will become red and may feel hot. Some blisters will appear, and the ‘crater’ shape will start to form. If intervention is taken at this stage, a quick recovery is promising.
- Swelling and Skin Loss – The foot or ankle may become swollen and there will be some skin loss where the ulcer is forming. A hardened patch of skin may develop around the ulcer.
- Discharge and Odor – The ulcer may start to weep, bleed and develop an unpleasant smell.
- Infection – If no intervention is taken, the skin will continue to erode, and the fatty subcutaneous layer of skin may become exposed. A green or creamy yellow (purulent) discharge would indicate an infection has taken hold.
If there is significant skin loss, a creamy yellow/green discharge, or an unpleasant smell, you need to seek medical treatment immediately. In any case, people with diabetes, or chronic conditions affecting the veins, should always seek medical advice for foot and ankle complaints.
Why Do Ulcers Often Occur on the Feet?
Ulcers can occur all over the body, but they’re most likely to occur in the mouth, or on the legs and feet.
So, why are they likely to occur on the legs and feet?
- We spend a lot of time on our feet, so they are a prime target for injury.
- People who live in hot countries often expose their feet, making them more susceptible to burns and wounds.
- As we’ve discussed, skin ulcers often indicate poor vein health or poor nerve functioning. Circulation and nerve problems affect parts of the body that are farthest from the heart and central nervous system. As such, it’s no surprise that skin ulcers are often found on the feet and ankles.
Are Foot Ulcers Painful?
Yes and no! Foot ulcers may be very painful; sometimes debilitating. Because the ulcer is on the foot, the constant pressure of standing and walking is likely to induce pain.
However, if you’re suffering from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), you might find that you are ‘numb’ to the pain of the ulcer. This is because the damage to your nerves has dampened your sensations. In addition, people with venous insufficiency (very poor circulation) are more likely to experience an irritating pins-and-needles sensation in the feet.
Although an absence of pain can provide relief in the short-term, it can be dangerous in the long-term as you may inadvertently aggravate your foot ulcer. For this reason, people with chronic conditions should check their feet daily, to ensure no further damage has been caused.
Will My Foot Ulcer Get Worse?
If left untreated, foot ulcers can cause a number of health complications. Ulcers erode the top layers of the skin, so they leave us susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections.
If infections spread, this could lead to:
- Severe scarring and foot deformities
- A bad fever (if you experience a high fever, you should seek medical advice immediately)
- An abscess (a collection of pus that may need to be ‘drained’)
- Cellulitis (the infection may spread to the thick layer of tissue underneath the skin’s surface)
- Osteomyelitis (or an infection in the bones)
- Gangrene (the tissues may ‘die’ which could lead to amputation)
- Necrosis of the muscle
- Sepsis – a life-threatening infection
Given the range of potential health complications, it’s clearly important to intervene at the earliest opportunity.
Why do Foot Ulcers Smell?
Wound odor is a common side effect of foot ulcers. According to a recent report on NCBI, this unfortunate side-effect has a profound impact on sufferers’ wellbeing. People are more likely to isolate themselves if their wounds smell unpleasant. It’s vital not to let the odor of your wounds prevent you from seeking treatment.
There are a couple of reasons why your ulcer might be smelling:
- When skin tissue breaks down, it releases a number of pungent chemicals. If the ulcer is left untreated, the eroding skin will continue to produce these putrid smelling chemicals.
- Once a wound becomes infected, the bacteria or fungi may produce an additional odor. If the foot ulcer produces a green and foul discharge, this is a clear sign of infection.
In either case, wound odor is a sign that some form of intervention is required.
Are Foot Ulcers Cancerous?
Skin complaints are always a worry because we’re afraid they could be a sign of cancer. There is a low-level association between foot ulcers and cancer, though it’s important to remember that most ulcers do not indicate cancer.
According to an article in the Journal of Phlebolymphology, the association between cancer and foot ulcers is two-fold:
- Malignant Melanoma (skin cancer) is occasionally misdiagnosed as a foot ulcer because these conditions look similar.
- On the other hand, if venous foot ulcers persist for many, many years (and no treatment is provided), they may develop into squamous cell carcinomas (a type of skin cancer).
Once again, this reveals the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
Are Foot Ulcers Contagious?
The short answer is no; skin ulcers are not contagious. However, if the ulcer becomes infected, the infection could easily spread to another family member, particularly if they have a cut or graze in their skin.
When you, or another person, cleans and dresses the wound, protective gloves should be worn, and hands should be washed thoroughly afterward. Even if the ulcer is very small, its good to keep it bandaged at all times to prevent you from inadvertently touching the skin and spreading any infection.
What Are the Common Causes of Foot Ulcers?
As discussed, ulcers are triggered by an external irritation or injury. Some people are more susceptible to ulcers than others because their skin is slower to heal. Nonetheless, anyone could develop a foot ulcer. For example, dropping boiling water on the foot could cause an ulcer to develop in anyone’s skin (regardless of any other risk factors).
To understand this topic in depth, it’s useful to distinguish between the external ‘triggers’ of skin ulcers, and the ‘risk factors’ for developing skin ulcers.
The known triggers of foot ulcers include:
- Heat (scalding)
- Radiation (sunburn, cancer treatment)
- Chemical burns
- Accidental or intentional skin picking
- Friction burns on the skin
The risk factors which make skin ulcers more likely include:
- Walking barefoot
- Wearing shoes that do not fit
- Poor foot hygiene
- Being overweight/ bedbound
- Smoking heavily
- Very dry skin
- Old age
- Diabetes (particularly ‘unmanaged’ diabetes)
- Peripheral neuropathy (malfunctioning nerves)
- Chronic venous insufficiency (poor vein health/blood circulation)
Quite often, 2 or 3 risk factors will present together. As you can see, many of the risk factors are avoidable; this is the reason why lifestyle changes are crucial for managing chronic foot ulcers. Before discussing the treatment options, we’ll explore some of these ‘risk factors’ in a bit more detail.
Neuropathic Foot Ulcers
Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve condition that affects the nerves in legs, feet, arms, and hands. Individuals who have problems with their nerves are more likely to develop skin ulcers, wounds, and infections.
This is partly because they lose normal sensation in their limbs, so may cause stress and strain to the skin without realizing. Moreover, if they do sustain a cut or graze, they’ll probably not be aware of it so may not take steps to reduce infection.
Peripheral neuropathy can affect different groups of people. Risk factors included:
- Uncontrolled diabetes (high blood sugar levels)
- Injury to the nerves
- Certain medications
- Coeliac Disease
- Vitamin B1 Deficiency
Given the loss of normal sensation in the feet, it’s important for sufferers to check their feet daily.
Venous Ulcers in Feet and Ankles
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition related to poor blood circulation. Blood starts to ‘pool’ in the veins because it cannot travel back towards the heart efficiently. This occurs when there is internal or external pressure placed on the veins or vein valves. The condition is more common in older people or people who are overweight.
Blood circulation is required for wound healing. As such, any ‘insufficiency’ in this area can jeopardize skins resilience. There are 7 main symptoms associated with chronic venous insufficiency – foot ulcers are just one of them.
Other symptoms include:
- Varicose veins
- Varicose Eczema (very dry, itchy feet and ankles)
- Edema (swelling)
- Deep vein thrombosis
Ulcers that are situated very close to the ankles strongly indicate there is a problem with the health of the veins.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Individuals with diabetes are 25% more likely to develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime. Not only that, diabetic foot ulcers are more resistant to treatment. So, why should diabetics be more prone to wounds on the feet and ankles?
- Blood Sugar Regulation – Diabetics who do not manage their condition are more prone to venous conditions, poor circulation, and peripheral neuropathy. This is because the elevated levels of sugar in their blood can interfere with nerve and vein functioning.
- A Weakened Immune System – Also, individuals with diabetes often have a weakened immune system, so their skin has a tough job of repairing itself. So, what starts out as a small cut or burn could quickly turn into a large ulcer.
- Co-existing factors – Finally, type-2 diabetes often co-exists with other risk factors such as being overweight, having limited mobility, and old age.
It’s important for diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control to promote wound healing. Moreover, it’s important for diabetics with foot problems to visit their podiatrist at the first sign of any foot complaint.
What are Pressure Ulcers?
Pressure ulcers (or sores) can affect anyone, but they’re most likely to occur in people who are bedbound or very inactive. You don’t have to be bedbound for months on end to develop pressure ulcers. You could be laid up for a couple of weeks after a sports injury and develop ulcerated skin. Pressure ulcers commonly occur in bony parts of the body such as the hips, elbows, and heels.
Initial symptoms of pressure ulcers include:
- Skin changes color (i.e., to red or purple) and the skin does not turn white when pressed
- Intense Itchiness
- The skin feels hardened and inflamed
If the skin is left untreated, it will likely develop into a blister, and then an ulcer. Unfortunately, pressure ulcers are only worsened by bedrest. Treatment typically involves:
- Special medicated dressings to speed up healing
- Moving positions regularly to avoid further sores and ulcers developing
- Improving the bedding, or room conditions to promote air flow
As such, if you’re facing a period of bed rest, it’s essential to keep the skin cool to prevent ulcers.
Can Shoes Cause Foot Ulcers?
Poorly-fitting shoes can cause blisters or sores to develop on the feet. If you’ve developed ulcerated skin around the toe area, this suggests your shoes may be too small and have aggravated the skin. This is a common concern as many modern styles of shoe do not provide enough room in the toe box. Buy new shoes or use a foot stretcher to create room in your footwear.
Poorly fitting or old footwear can also worsen foot ulcers. Wearing old trainers and not changing socks regularly increases the likelihood that infection will spread. Also, wearing shoes that are too tight will cause the ulcer to rub. As we’ll explore, one of the treatment options for diabetic foot ulcers is orthotics and specialist footwear.
Can Stress Cause Foot Ulcers?
Psychological stress certainly contributes to mouth ulcers, but does it cause foot ulcers? Stress is not a direct cause of foot ulcers, though it might maintain them. Physical events trigger a foot ulcer, but psychological stress may prevent the wound from healing efficiently.
Specific maladaptive forms of ‘stress relief’ are known to worsen foot ulcers. For example, smokers are more likely to suffer chronic wounds, because smoking interferes with our bodies healing responses. According to a study on Wound Care, even one cigarette per day can cause ‘hypoxia.’ Hypoxia prevents ulcer healing and makes bacterial infection more likely. So, if smoking is being used as a form of stress relief, it’s crucial to tackle this issue to prevent further ulcers occurring.
Now that we know foot ulcers can be caused (and maintained) by a variety of factors, it’s important to take a holistic approach when treating them. So, let’s explore the various treatment options for foot ulcers.
Can I Treat a Foot Ulcer at Home?
If your ulcer has been caused by a one-off injury or burn, and it appears shallow and non-infected, you should be able to treat it at home. The earlier you intervene after a cut, burn or blister, the less likely it is to develop into a full-blown ulcer.
If you have an underlying condition such as diabetes, neuropathy or venous insufficiency – you should always consult a doctor for ulcer treatment. Let’s start with the home treatments for foot ulcers before we explore the medical interventions.
How to Wash a Foot Ulcer at Home
It’s important to follow these steps when washing a wound or skin ulcer:
- Wash your hands with warm water and anti-bacterial wash, dry thoroughly with a clean towel. If you have some disposable gloves available, put these on.
- Place the foot under tepid water for 10 minutes – Ideally, this should be running water, rather than a foot bath.
- If there are loose flakes of skin around the ulcer, try and dislodge these with the running water – but DON’T attempt to remove the skin with your hands.
- Soak a soft pad or cloth in saline solution (salt and water). Use the cloth to gently wipe around the ulcer, taking care not to cause any further injuries. Do not use antiseptic solutions without a doctor’s instruction, as these could damage the wound further.
- If you don’t want to dab a cloth on the ulcer, you could prepare a bottle of saline solution, and pour this gently onto the wound, while standing in the bath.
- Gently pat the area with a clean towel or cloth, until it is dry.
- Apply a dressing to the wound. Do not use an adhesive plaster as this could rip the skin. Instead, apply a sterile pad to the wound, and use bandage or tape to secure it in place. Try to apply the pad, so it is firmly compressed against the skin.
- Wash your hands with anti-bacterial wash and, if possible, elevate your foot so that it is above the heart. This will promote circulation and healing.
- Depending on your lifestyle, your dressing will probably need to be changed every 24-48 hours.
Even when the wound is managed in a doctor’s office, the doctor will often encourage you to clean your wound under their supervision. As such, this gives you an idea of what you can expect.
If, when cleaning your ulcer at home, you come across any of the following issues – it’s time to see a doctor.
- Blood has seeped through multiple dressings
- There is a green or yellow discharge
- There is an object or dirt inside the ulcer that you can’t remove
- It’s too painful to run water over the ulcer
How Will I Know If My Ulcer Is Healing?
If your ulcer is shallow, and you are in general good health, it is likely to heal in 3 – 6 weeks. There are some signs you can look out for to determine if your foot ulcer is healing normally.
- When you first apply a bandage to your ulcer, you’ll probably feel quite a lot of pain for a few hours (due to the compression). This is normal and should subside within 12 hours.
- After some days, the ulcer may start to weep. If the discharge looks like a serum (i.e., mostly clear and relatively free-running), this is a sign your ulcer is healing.
- After 1-2 weeks, you foot ulcer may start to bleed. Bleeding is a good sign – as long as there is not too much blood. If the blood soaks through 3 dressing pads, it’s a sign you should see a doctor.
- After three weeks, if the skin looks to have healed, you can remove the bandages while you’re inside the house, to allow the skin to breathe. However, when wearing shoes or putting pressure on your feet, consider whether you need to wear a bandage to prevent friction.
How to Boost Immunity and Healing
Once you’ve developed an ulcer, your skins healing abilities will determine how long you suffer for. A weakened immune system is less able to produce the white blood cells required for cell renewal and skin repair.
Thankfully, there are many things we can do to boost our immunity:
- Quit Smoking – Lots of studies have shown that smoking interferes with wound healing. Whilst cutting down cigarettes is a manageable ‘compromise’ for achieving general health, it appears that total abstinence is required for promoting wound healing. As such, if you’re a smoker, the most important thing you can do to heal your foot ulcers is to give up smoking.
- Increase your Intake of Flavonoids – flavonoids are found in a variety of fruit and vegetables, particularly berries. Flavonoids are thought to improve immunity and boost circulation so that they could be a perfect preventative treatment for foot ulcers.
- Vitamin B Intake– The B vitamins are essential for skin health, as well as nerve functioning. Poultry, whole grains, and soya beans are excellent natural sources of these vitamins.
- Vitamin D Intake – Exposure to the sunlight is necessary to support the immune system. However, if your foot ulcer was caused by sunburn or scalding, it’s important to stay out of the sun to promote recovery.
- Take Gotu Kola – Studies have shown that this herb may significantly improve circulation and promote skin renewal.
- Try Turmeric – Turmeric has become trendy in recent years, but can it help heal an ulcer? According to a review on Springer, the active ingredient in turmeric – curcumin – produces an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, so will encourage the skin the heal. Curcumin can be consumed orally or applied topically.
- Increase Intake of Zinc and Magnesium – These minerals are essential for skin health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet should provide enough of these minerals, though supplements are an option.
- Manage Stress – As we’ve discussed, chronic stress can weaken the immune system and may lead to maladaptive practices such as smoking or skin picking – which will make healing even more difficult. You can manage stress through meditation, journaling, or socializing more regularly. If you feel worried or ashamed about your foot ulcers, this can make things worse. As such, it’s important to speak to a friend or a doctor about any concerns you may have.
- Lavender Essential Oil – This oil appears to boost immune function and promote relaxation. Essential oils should never be applied to the ulcerated skin; instead, try inhaling this oil to encourage healing.
- Stay Hydrated – Hydration is necessary for cell renewal and immune functioning. Also, if your ulcer were to become infected, staying hydrated would help your body fight the infection. It is best to take small sips of water throughout the day, rather than ‘flood’ the body with liquids. Also, try to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol as these are diuretics.
Is Aloe Vera Good for Skin Ulcers?
Aloe Vera is a natural ingredient that is thought to improve skin health. It comes in a juice or gel format, and many people recommend it for the treatment of wounds, sunburn, and ulcers. So, is this something you should incorporate into your treatment regime?
There is no reliable evidence to suggest that Aloe Vera is an effective treatment for wounds or ulcers. Also, topical treatments are generally not recommended, particularly if you are treating the ulcer at home. As such, if you did want to include Aloe Vera in your treatment regimen, you’d probably be better taking it orally – like a juice or a supplement – to avoid harming ulcerated skin.
How to Improve Scars on Feet
If ulcers occur on the tops of the feet, they might leave scars that are difficult to disguise. The most effective treatment for scars is time. However, there are some things you can do to speed up skin-regeneration and improve the appearance of scars. Remember, you should not engage in scar treatment until your ulcer has completely healed.
- Use a gentle exfoliating scrub in the shower – you could prepare a natural formulation using honey and sugar.
- Apply vitamin-enriched creams (particularly those enriched with vitamin C) to the feet and ankles.
- Apply vitamin E Oil to the scarred areas of the foot.
- Massage shea butter into the feet to improve the texture of scars.
Incidentally, moisturizing regularly will keep the feet supple and healthy, so may prevent sores and ulcers developing in the future. What’s more, paying regular attention to your feet means you’ll notice any injuries as soon as they arise.
Medical Interventions for Foot Ulcers
Broadly speaking, doctors and podiatrists offer 5 interventions for the treatment of skin ulcers.
- Specialist Wound Dressing and Compression
- Manual Debridement
- Antibiotics (to deal with any infections)
- Surgery – Skin Grafts
In addition, they’ll also offer advice on how to prevent foot ulcers in the future. We’ll provide an overview of this advice at the end of this article. For now, let’s explore each intervention in a little more detail.
Wound Dressings for Foot Ulcers
If you have your ulcer ‘dressed’ in a hospital or doctor’s office, they’ll be able to use specialist bandages that promote wound healing.
There are three ‘types’ of dressings:
- Alginate Dressings – The sodium and calcium in these bandages promote healing. These dressings have a gel-like texture that is soft on the skin, so they reduce friction. Also, they stop the surrounding skin from becoming macerated. Alginate dressings are suitable for ulcers that a weeping a lot, though may not be suitable if there is excessive bleeding.
- Hydrocolloid dressings – These dressings keep the skin dry and promote healing. Sometimes, they are impregnated with a zinc oxide solution. Hydrocolloid dressings are compressed close to the ulcer, so they encourage dead skin to disintegrate and flake off. These dressings can be painful when first applied, but the pain subsides within a day or two.
- Antimicrobial/Antibiotic Dressings – These dressings may be used if an infection has taken hold. However, they are not suitable for everyone because they can cause further damage to certain types of wounds.
Most dressings also contain substances that help to manage wound odor. In most cases, the dressings will last 2-3 weeks.
What is Debridement?
To debride a wound is to remove the dead (or infected) skin tissue. Often, a health professional can do this with a scalpel. If someone is unsuitable for this treatment, compression bandages can be applied to encourage the skin to debride on its own. In some cases, specialist chemicals may be used to encourage old skin to flake away.
The process of debridement is a little painful, and often causes bleeding. However, this is necessary to speed up the healing process. Debridement should never be attempted at home, and a full consultation is required before deciding if it is the right option for a patient.
What is Off-Loading?
A foot ulcer will take longer to heal if you repeatedly put pressure on it throughout the day. At the same time, ulcers are slow to heal, so you can’t put your life on hold for months. With the help of a specialist, you’ll be offered ways to reduce the stress placed on your ulcer.
Besides bandaging techniques, off-loading may include:
- Specialist wide-fit shoes or slippers.
- Custom made orthotics or insoles.
- Raising the legs at nighttime to improve circulation.
- Compression socks – these encourage circulation and reduce a ‘pressure build-up’ at the ankles.
- The use of a wheelchair or crutches may be necessary.
Will I Need A Skin Graft?
If a foot ulcer is extremely resistant to treatment, a skin graft may be necessary. Skin grafts are sometimes given to diabetic patients to avoid having to amputate the leg.
As part of this process, healthy skin is taken from another part of the body and placed over the ulcerated skin. To encourage the new skin to take hold, the foot is bandaged and regularly ‘drained’ of excess fluid, so that new tissue integrates.
It’s worth remembering that skin grafts are a last resort and are only performed on foot ulcers that are not able to heal on their own.
How Long Will My Ulcer Take to Heal?
Unfortunately, skin ulcers can take quite a long time to heal – particularly if there is an underlying health condition.
As mentioned, if an isolated foot ulcer develops in an otherwise healthy individual, it should heal in 3-4 weeks. This assumes that the wound is cared for, and steps are taken to prevent infection. This figure increases to 4-6 weeks in pregnant women or people who live sedentary lives.
If you have a condition such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or chronic vein insufficiency (or you smoke), a foot ulcer may take between 12 and 20 weeks to heal properly. In intervention is taken at the earliest opportunity, the recovery time may reduce. Moreover, studies have shown that stopping smoking completely (even if you were a regular smoker before) can improve recovery time significantly.
How to Prevent Foot Ulcers
Approximately 6.5 million people in the US suffer from ‘chronic wounds.’ A chronic wound is a wound that keeps worsening or recurring. If a condition has become ‘chronic’ this often means that some large-scale lifestyle changes are in order. So, once you’ve started your targeted treatment, try taking some additional steps to prevent this condition occurring in the future.
- Engage in an active lifestyle to promote circulation
- Avoid standing or sitting still for too long
- Eat a healthy, vitamin-rich diet
- Manage stress appropriately
- Quit Smoking
- If you are diabetic – control your blood sugar at all times
- Exfoliate and moisturize the skin regularly (though avoid harsh products)
- Wear shoes that fit well and avoid going barefoot outside of the home
- Wash your feet regularly and pat them with a towel until they’re completely dry
- Most importantly; check your feet daily for any changes to the skin
If you commit to these lifestyle changes, you’re likely to experience a myriad of health benefits.