What Is A Skin Ulcer

Skin Ulcer – Types, Causes, Symptoms, Stages, Treatment

An ulcer is an open sore found on either the internal or external surfaces of the body. Ulcers on your skin should be treated under the care of a medical specialist. Treatment up to healing the ulcer can be done in a medical facility or at home. Skin ulcer treatment medication often includes antibiotics to prevent sepsis of the ulcer. Discuss allergies to medications and other medical conditions with your doctor.

What Is a Skin Ulcer?

A skin ulcer is found on the external surface of your body. It can be on any organ or even on the face. A skin ulcer on your leg or arm might be a diabetic skin ulcer.

Skin Ulcer Types

Skin ulcers are grouped based on where they occur and what causes them. There are four types of skin ulcers based on this classification. They are

i. Venous Skin Ulcers Ulcers with a typically red base. Often covered with a yellow film. Infected venous skin ulcers ooze pus that is yellow or green in color. These skin ulcers typically develop on the lower leg. Venous skin ulcers are also referred to as stasis leg ulcers.

ii. Neuropathic Skin Ulcers Also called diabetic skin ulcer. These ulcers are found on the pressure points at the bottom of the foot. The base of neuropathic ulcers shows variance depending on individual patients’ circulation. It usually appears pinkish red or brownish black in color. The sin around a neuropathic sin ulcer is often Calloused. Diabetic individuals are encouraged to reduce the occurrence of neuropathic skin ulcers by wearing properly fitting shoes. They should also regularly examine the soles of their feet for sores.

iii. Pressure Skin Ulcers Pressure skin ulcers are ulcers that develop due to staying in the same position over a long period of time. They are found where the bone is close to the skin in most cases. Pressure skin ulcers often lead to medically serious infections. Pressure ulcers are also called Bedsores or Pressure Sores.

iv.Arterial Skin Ulcers These skin ulcers are found on the feet. The toenails and toes themselves may be affected. Arterial skin ulcers are also called Lower Extremity Skin Ulcers. The base of arterial ulcers is brown, black yellow or grey colored. The surrounding skin of an arterial skin ulcer usually looks swollen and very red. These skin ulcers are painful with the pain getting worse at night.

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Skin Ulcer Causes

Skin ulcers have a number of causes. Venous skin ulcers are caused by poor circulation of blood from the legs to the heart. It causes fluid buildup in seepage into surrounding tissues. Breakdown of the tissue then occurs. Arterial ulcers are seen in persons with the arterial disease. The poorly functioning arteries cannot circulate blood properly.

Pressure skin ulcers are caused by staying in the same position for long. Lack of movement and staying still leads to circulation being cut off. The tissue in that area dies leading to the skin ulcer. Individuals who are bedridden or bound to a wheelchair are at high risk of getting pressure skin ulcers. Nerve damage in the feet of diabetic individuals is the cause of most neuropathic skin ulcers.

Skin Ulcer Symptoms

The symptoms of a skin ulcer are an exposed bone, tendon or muscle. An open crater forms in the skin. Layers of skin disappear from the crater. Redness of the skin is often observed around the skin ulcer crater.

Infection of your skin ulcer is dangerous to your health and wellbeing. You will know your skin ulcer is infected if it has pus draining from it. You will also feel pain in the ulcer alongside bleeding, tenderness and swelling of the skin. Red streaks may appear in the skin. An infected skin ulcer may cause you to have a fever.

Skin Ulcer Treatment

Skin ulcer treatment uses a mix of therapies and approaches depending on the ulcer type. Topical wound care and antibiotics to prevent infections are used in the treatment of most skin ulcer types.

Bandages and compression garments are useful in the treatment of skin ulcers. Your doctor may include time at home in your skin ulcer treatment regime. Skin ulcer treatment home regimes should be followed strictly to prevent the ulcer from becoming worse.

Venous skin ulcers require elevation of the leg above the heart’s level. Infected venous skin ulcers may require skin grafting or vein surgery as part of their treatment regime. Severe arterial ulcers need endovascular therapy and bypass surgery for their successful treatment. These restore circulation to the legs in the case of arterial ulcers.

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Skin Ulcer Stages

There are four stages of skin ulcers. Each stage is characterized by increasing breaking of skin and loss of skin thickness.

  • Stage 1 skin ulcers are the least worrying and easy to treat and heal.
  • Stage 2 skin ulcers show loss of the dermis and epidermis skin layers.
  • In stage 3, the ulcer shows damage and necrosis of the subcutaneous tissue but does not expand down through the underlying fascia.
  • Total loss of skin and necrosis characterize stage 4 skin ulcers. It is the most advanced stage of skin ulcers.
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad