Skin ulcers are open wounds that develop on the skin as a result of damage, poor blood flow, or excessive pressure.
Typically, such inflammations heal for a very long time, and if ulcers on the skin are left without treatment, they can become infected and cause serious complications.
Ulcers are able to appear on all skin areas. Most often, different types of ulcers occur on the legs, near the mouth or on the lips, as well as on the thighs and buttocks.
In the current article we will discuss various types of skin ulcers, talk about their causes and symptoms, and also discuss the diagnosis and treatment.
What are the symptoms of skin ulcers?
Ulcers have the appearance of round open inflammations. They can differ in severity and are often the result of traumatic episodes.
In severe cases, ulcers can become deep wounds that pass through muscle tissue and leave bones and joints unprotected.
Among the associated symptoms of ulcers on the skin is the following:
- change in skin color;
- swelling of the skin near ulcers;
- dry or scaly skin around ulcers;
- clear, bloody or pus-filled discharge from ulcers;
- unpleasant smell emanating from the affected part of the body.
- hair loss near ulcers.
Photos of skin ulcers
Types of skin ulcers
The following types of ulcers can develop on human skin.
Trophic ulcers are shallow open inflammations that develop on the skin of the legs as a result of poor blood circulation.
Damage to the valves inside the veins makes it difficult for the blood to return to the heart, which is why it collects in the legs and causes them to become swollen. This puffiness puts pressure on the skin and thus causes ulcers.
Arterial or ischemic ulcers
Arterial ulcers develop on the skin when arteries fail to deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the lower limbs. Without a steady supply of oxygen, tissues die and ulcers form.
Arterial ulcers can form on the ankles, feet, or toes.
Neuropathic skin ulcers are a fairly common symptom of uncontrolled diabetes. Over time, an increased level of glucose in the blood can cause nerve damage, which leads to a weakening or complete loss of sensation in the hands or feet.
This condition in medical practice is usually denoted by the term neuropathy. It affects from 70 to 80% of patients with diabetes.
Neuropathic ulcers develop on the skin from insignificant wounds, such as blisters or small cuts. Patients with diabetic neuropathy often realize that they develop ulcers only at the moment when fluid begins to develop from the inflammations or signs of infection appear. At this stage of skin lesions, a characteristic odor usually occurs.
Pressure ulcers are the result of constant pressure or friction on the skin.
Human skin can function normally at a pressure of 30 to 32 millimeters (mm) of mercury. Any increase in pressure can lead to poor blood circulation, tissue death and ulceration.
Without treatment, the bedsores can damage the tendons, ligaments and muscle tissue.
Buruli ulcer is an infectious disease caused by mycobacterium ulcerans. The penetration of this microorganism into the human body provokes the formation of large ulcers on the hands and feet.
Without treatment, Buruli ulcers can lead to permanent physical damage and disability.
Congestive or gravitational dermatitis is a medical condition that causes inflammation, skin irritation, and the formation of ulcers on the arms and legs. Problems develop under the influence of fluid accumulation due to poor blood circulation.
According to the US National Eczema Association, congestive dermatitis is more common in women than in men, and more often in people over 50 years old.
What causes skin ulcers?
Different types of ulcers develop for various reasons – from poor circulation to bacterial infections.
Initially, ulcers may be in the form of minor irritations or patches of skin of a different color. Over time, the skin tissue begins to disintegrate and form shallow wounds.
The doctor can diagnose skin ulcers by their appearance. The specialist will ask the patient about his medical history and the observed symptoms to determine the exact cause of the problem. Based on this reason, the person will be recommended treatment.
After the examination, the doctor will determine the most effective treatment for skin ulcers.
The choice of treatment for skin ulcers depends on the severity of the lesions and the type of ulcers.
Small ulcers that have no signs of infectious diseases can be successfully treated at home. Treatment of light skin lesions usually consists of preventing the development of infections. To do this, keep the affected area clean and bandage the ulcers if they do not release liquid.
The signs of infection of skin ulcers include the following:
- discharge of pus;
- unpleasant smell.
People who notice these symptoms in themselves should consult a doctor.
Treatment of severe ulcers includes the following:
- removal of dead tissue to stimulate the healing process;
- use of oral or topical antibiotics to treat bacterial infections;
- taking pain medication to ease discomfort.
Poor blood circulation often causes ulcers on the skin. Therefore, by improving blood circulation, it is possible to treat existing lesions and prevent the development of new ones.
To improve blood circulation in your body, people can follow these guidelines:
- wear compression stockings;
- lift your legs up frequently while resting;
- stop smoking;
- exercise regularly;
- maintain a healthy weight
Without proper treatment, skin ulcers can progress to chronic wounds or cause the development of dangerous infections.
The following are among the complications of ulcers on the skin:
- cellulitis – a bacterial infection that affects the deep layers of the skin and soft tissues;
- sepsis – blood infection, which is the result of a bacterial infection;
- infections of the bones of the joints;
- gangrene – the death of tissue as a result of poor blood flow.
Home treatment methods
People can relieve the symptoms of lung skin ulcers, as well as reduce the risk of their infection and other complications with the help of the following treatments.
Turmeric contains curcumin – a chemical that has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant properties. Thanks to the curcumin, turmeric helps wounds on the skin heal faster.
After cleaning the affected skin area, sprinkle turmeric powder abundantly on the ulcer, and then apply a clean bandage.
Salt solution is a sterile product, which is distilled water with salt mixed in it. People can use saline solutions to clean and remove dead skin cells from ulcers.
Traditional salt solutions usually contain 0.9% salt, so they do not irritate the ulcers. People can purchase salt solutions in pharmacies or prepare their own at home.
Honey has powerful antimicrobial properties due to the fact that it includes a high concentration of sugar and polyphenols. The results of a number of clinical and laboratory studies have shown that honey effectively counteracts many bacteria that are associated with skin diseases.
Ulcers form on human skin due to poor blood circulation, infections, or prolonged pressure. Treatment of such lesions at their early stage reduces the risk of developing severe infections and other serious complications.
Infected ulcers may require drainage or antibiotic treatment. People often manage to prevent the development of skin ulcers by complying with the following recommendations:
- treat medical conditions that impair blood circulation, such as varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and diabetes;
- stop smoking;
- maintain a healthy weight;
- Avoid staying in the same sitting or lying position for too long.
A doctor should be referred to all people who have found symptoms of ulcers. In addition, the hospital should go if the wounds on the skin heal too slowly.