U is for Ulcer

June 12, 2013

An ulcer is a break in the skin, usually caused by pressure. It is much more common in those with diabetes and neuropathy and can set in motion a chain of events that can have very serious consequences. It is a common complication of the diabetic foot.

An ulcer is an open sore or wound on the skin that fails to heal or has difficulty healing.

There are various causes and types of skin ulcers, including:

Pressure ulcers: Also known as bedsores or pressure sores, these ulcers develop due to prolonged pressure on a particular area of the skin. Pressure ulcers commonly occur in individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility, as well as in those who use wheelchairs or braces that put pressure on specific areas of the body.

Venous ulcers: These ulcers typically develop in the lower legs and are caused by poor circulation in the veins. Venous ulcers often result from chronic venous insufficiency, where the veins have difficulty returning blood to the heart. This can lead to pooling of blood in the lower extremities and the formation of ulcers.

Arterial ulcers: Arterial ulcers arise from inadequate blood supply to a particular area, usually due to underlying arterial disease or blockages. These ulcers often occur on the lower extremities, such as the feet or ankles, and are typically characterized by a punched-out appearance with well-defined edges.

Diabetic ulcers: Individuals with diabetes may develop ulcers, typically on the feet, due to nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow to the extremities. Diabetic ulcers can result from minor injuries or pressure that goes unnoticed due to decreased sensation in the affected area.

Traumatic ulcers: Ulcers can develop as a result of physical trauma or injury to the skin, such as cuts, burns, or abrasions. If the wound fails to heal or becomes infected, it may progress into an ulcer.

Infectious ulcers: Certain infections can lead to the formation of ulcers. For example, skin ulcers can occur due to bacterial infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or fungal infections like cutaneous candidiasis.

Autoimmune-related ulcers: In some autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or vasculitis, the immune system attacks healthy tissues, including the skin. This can result in the formation of ulcers.

Cancer-related ulcers: Skin ulcers may develop as a manifestation of certain types of cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. These ulcers can occur due to tumor growth and destruction of surrounding tissues.

Medication-related ulcers: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids, can increase the risk of developing skin ulcers, particularly when used long-term or at high doses.


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