Ischemic Ulcers

What Are Ischemic Ulcers

Ischemic ulcers are shallow ulcers of the skin that occur in areas that have poor circulation. They are most commonly found on the lower legs, and may be warm, red, or painful to the touch. Depending on the severity, they may have dead patches of skin, known as dry gangrene, due to the restricted blood flow. Other common locations for ischemic ulcers include feet, fingers, and toes.

Cause of Ischemic Ulcers

The cause of ischemia is restricted blood flow due to blockages or weakened vessel walls. This can be the result of multiple conditions, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), a common condition in which the arteries are narrowed due to a buildup of fatty deposits on the walls.
  • Diabetes, which can impair the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels and damage the small vessels throughout the body.
  • Cardiovascular disease, which can cause narrowing and blockages of the major arteries in the body.
  • Venous insufficiency, a condition in which the veins of the legs cannot properly circulate blood back to the heart.

Symptoms of Ischemic Ulcers

The most common symptoms of ischemic ulcers are areas of fragile, thickened, or discolored skin, particularly on the lower legs. Other symptoms that may be present include:

  • Pain, especially when pressure is applied to the affected area.
  • Itching, burning, or tingling sensations in the affected area.
  • Open wounds or sores that may produce a foul odor or pus.
  • Increased swelling, redness, or tenderness of the affected skin.
  • Discolored patches of skin due to the death of underlying tissue.
  • High fever.

Treatment for Ischemic Ulcers

Treatment for ischemic ulcers depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms. It is important to seek medical advice to determine the cause and find the best treatment approach. Common treatments for ischemic ulcers may include:

  • Prescription medications to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and help prevent platelet clotting.
  • Surgery to clear blocked arteries or veins.
  • Compression therapy to improve circulation.
  • Antibiotics to treat infection.
  • Debridement to remove dead tissue.
  • Skin grafts to cover large areas of dead skin.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to improve oxygenation of tissue.
  • Steroid shots to reduce pain and inflammation.

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience any of the symptoms of ischemic ulcers. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent potentially dangerous complications.