Skin ulcers are wounds that occur due to the loss of skin tissue, whether superficial or deep, and they cannot regenerate and heal naturally.
These ulcers can develop on any part of the skin but are most commonly found in the lower limbs. In approximately 95% of cases, they are caused by underlying vascular issues.
Skin ulcers: What Are They?
The main types of skin ulcers include:
- Decubitus or pressure ulcers
- Inflammatory ulcers associated with underlying diseases
- Neoplastic ulcers, or ulcerated tumor
- Diabetic foot ulcers
- Vascular ulcers, which can be venous, arterial, or mixed
Skin Ulcers: What Are the Causes?
The causes of skin ulcers can vary depending on several factors.
- Vascular skin ulcers occur when even minor trauma damages blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow in a specific area;
- Decubitus or pressure ulcers occur when a person remains immobile for an extended period, usually due to illness;
- Diabetic ulcers occur as a result of nerve damage caused by diabetes, leading to decreased blood flow and tissue oxygenation;
- Inflammatory ulcers are caused by other diseases that inflame blood vessels, such as rheumatoid arthritis or vasculitis;
- Neoplastic ulcers occur in the presence of skin cancer.
Skin Ulcers: The Symptoms
The main symptoms of skin ulcers are:
- Pain in the affected area
- Exposure of the deep layers of the skin
- Redness and irritation
Skin Ulcers: What Tests to Do for Diagnosis?
For the diagnosis of skin ulcers, several tests are commonly used:
- Echo Color Doppler, arteriography, and phlebography are imaging techniques that help assess blood flow in the affected area.
- Blood tests are conducted to evaluate blood sugar levels and protein levels.
Skin Ulcers: Can They Be Prevented?
Indeed, it is essential to adopt several habits that can help improve circulation in the legs, such as:
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Following a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption
- Keeping the skin well-hydrated at all times
Skin ulcers: Who Is at Risk?
Certain factors can compromise blood vessel function and impede sufficient oxygen supply to the tissues, including:
- Reduced mobility
- The presence of other inflammatory diseases
Individuals with these conditions are at a higher risk of developing non-healing skin ulcers.
Skin Ulcers: How to Treat Them
If a wound does not heal, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause. The specialist can guide the patient toward the most suitable treatment approach by learning about the patient’s medical history, evaluating the ulcer, and possibly taking tissue sampling.
The underlying diseases that led to the development of the skin ulcer should be treated, and appropriate clothing should be utilized to promote tissue healing. The ulcer will continue to evolve, requiring periodic monitoring to determine the most appropriate treatment course, which may involve the removal of non-viable tissue or addressing any infection present.
The primary concern is the risk of infection, as it can spread throughout the body and lead to septicemia. Additionally, the presence of the ulcer may be a symptom of an undiagnosed problem. Evaluation by a dermatologist is crucial to accurately analyze the issue and make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate medical or surgical interventions.