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Every year in the United States, millions of people develop skin ulcers, deep wounds, or sores that don’t heal normally. These ulcers take a long time to heal or they may not heal at all, substantially increasing the risk of developing a very serious infection.
At Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions, Dr. Allison Burkett provides state-of-the-art care for skin ulcers, promoting complete healing while also treating the underlying cause of ulcers. Here’s what Dr. Burkett wants you to know about skin ulcers and their treatment.
Skin ulcers typically occur in areas where there is poor circulation associated with an underlying medical problem.
Venous ulcers occur most often on the lower legs and feet. These ulcers happen more frequently among people with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that hampers blood flow in the veins. About 80-90% of all lower leg ulcers are venous ulcers.
Also called ischemic ulcers, arterial ulcers are caused by poor circulation in the arteries (the vessels that carry blood back to your heart). People with peripheral artery disease (PAD) or atherosclerosis are more likely to develop these ulcers. Arterial ulcers appear most often on the feet and toes, heels, ankles, or lower legs.
Also called neuropathic ulcers, diabetic ulcers are caused by nerve damage and circulation problems associated with diabetes. Diabetic ulcers usually happen on your feet or lower legs, and because the nerves are affected, you may not feel any pain. About 15% of people with diabetes will also have foot ulcers as a result of their disease.
Commonly known as pressure ulcers or “bed sores,” decubitus ulcers affect people who are bedridden or otherwise immobile for long periods of time. Continuous pressure on specific areas of skin eventually leads to tissue breakdown and painful sores. These sores often appear over bony areas, like the heels, shoulders, ankles, hips, or tailbone.
Ulcer treatment focuses on helping the wound heal while also treating the underlying cause.
Most wounds require dressings to cover the wound and help keep it clean. There are many types of dressings, including those infused with medication or other agents to help promote healing.
Doctors usually prescribe medications like antibiotics to kill germs and help prevent the infection from spreading. Depending on the extent of the infection, you may receive antibiotic ointments, oral antibiotics, or both. It’s very important to use your medicines exactly as directed.
Wearing compression stockings and elevating your legs may help with swelling that puts pressure on your skin and interferes with healthy healing. Ulcers that are very hard to heal might require topical wound therapies or even surgery to remove dead tissue.
Ulcers caused by circulation problems are often treated with a combination of therapies, including treatments designed to repair or even remove damaged veins and “unclog” arteries. Before any treatment plan begins, our team performs a comprehensive evaluation to ensure your treatment is tailored to your unique circumstances.
It might be tempting to adopt a “wait and see” attitude when it comes to leg ulcers, giving them time to heal on their own. But leg ulcers rarely heal without medical treatment, and delaying care can result in serious infections that may lead to lower limb amputation.
Getting prompt medical treatment for skin ulcers is critical. To learn more about the treatments Dr. Burkett offers at our practice in Warner Robins, Georgia, book an appointment online or over the phone today.