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Los Angeles, CA 90057
Tel. (213) 484-0040

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11540 Santa Monica Blvd.
Second Floor - Suite #203
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel. (310) 477-9210
 

Ulcer

Ulcer is a sore on the skin or a mucous membrane, accompanied by the disintegration of tissue. Ulcers can result in complete loss of the epidermis and often portions of the dermis and even subcutaneous fat. Ulcers are most common on the skin of the lower extremities and in the gastrointestinal tract.

An ulcer that appears on the skin is often visible as an inflamed tissue with an area of reddened skin. A skin ulcer is often visible in the event of exposure to heat or cold, irritation, or a problem with blood circulation. They can also be caused due to a lack of mobility, which causes prolonged pressure on the tissues. This stress in the blood circulation is transformed to a skin ulcer, commonly known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers. Ulcers often become infected, and pus forms

Symptoms

Skin ulcers appear as open craters, often round, with layers of skin that have eroded. The skin around the ulcer may be red, swollen, and tender. Patients may feel pain on the skin around the ulcer, and fluid may ooze from the ulcer.

In some cases, ulcers can bleed and, rarely, patients experience fever. Ulcers sometimes seem not to heal; healing, if it does occur, tends to be slow. Ulcers that heal within 12 weeks are usually classified as acute, and longer-lasting ones as chronic.

Although skin ulcers do not seem of great concern at a first glance, they are worrying conditions especially in people suffering from diabetes, as they are at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy, See Diabetic Foot & Ulcer Care.

Treatment

Skin ulcers may take a very long time to heal. Treatment is typically to avoid the ulcer getting infected, remove any excess discharge, maintain a moist wound environment, control the edema, and ease pain caused by nerve and tissue damage.

Topical antibiotics are normally used to prevent the ulcer getting infected, and the wound or ulcer is usually kept clear of dead tissue through surgical debridement.

Commonly, as a part of the treatment, patients are advised to change their lifestyle if possible and to change their diet. Improving the circulation is important in treating skin ulcers, and patients are consequently usually recommended to exercise, stop smoking, and lose weight.

In recent years, advances have been made in accelerating healing of chronic wounds and ulcers. Chronic wounds produce fewer growth hormones than necessary for healing tissue, and healing may be accelerated by replacing or stimulating growth factors while controlling the formation of other substances that work against them.

Leg ulcers can be prevented by using compression stockings to prevent blood pooling and back flow. It is likely that a person who has had a skin ulcer will have it again; use of compression stockings every day for at least 5 years after the skin ulcer has healed may help to prevent recurrence.

Causes

The wounds from which ulcers arise can be caused by a wide variety of factors, but the main cause is impaired blood circulation. Especially, chronic wounds and ulcers are caused by poor circulation, either through cardiovascular issues or external pressure from a bed or a wheelchair.

A very common and dangerous type of skin ulcers are caused by what are called pressure sensitive sores, more commonly called bed sores and which are frequent in people who are bedridden or who use wheelchairs for long periods. Other causes of skin ulceration include bacterial or viral infections, fungal infections and cancers. Blood disorders and chronic wounds can result in skin ulcers as well.