Your feet work hard, every day, and you need them to be healthy to maintain your mobility. Foot wounds come in many different forms and need to be taken seriously. Knowing the types of wounds that occur is the first step in both prevention and treatment.
Types of Foot Wounds
Foot wounds can vary from an open wound resulting from trauma to an incision wound to a pressure ulcer. Any type of foot wound has the potential to cause complications, especially if you have diabetes.
Foot wounds are often called ulcers, a term that means that the function of the skin has been compromised in some way. When skin is broken it fails to provide the protection that keeps out infection.
A traumatic wound—a cut or puncture—can be the result of stepping on a foreign object or other accidents. These open wounds require immediate attention and you may need anything from a simple wound cleaning and dressing and a tetanus shot to surgical intervention.
An incision wound from a procedure is another type of traumatic wound. These wounds are carefully monitored from the outset but without proper aftercare can still cause infection.
These wounds are also known as diabetic wounds. They are the result of skin breakdown from pressure on an area of the foot, often around calloused skin. This type of pressure is painful, but a loss of sensation prevents those with diabetes from relieving the pressure.
The resulting skin breakdown causes sloughy wounds that are hard to heal. The sloughy portions consist of dead tissue that needs to be removed. They are also prone to infection. Because neuropathic wounds are difficult to treat, prevention by regular foot examinations and care is essential.
Resulting from a lack of blood flow to the feet, arterial wounds often appear on heels and toes. Without restoration of blood flow, the tissues in the feet will not survive. Arterial wounds are not open, and without treatment can result in the loss of digits or feet.
Unlike arterial wounds, venous wounds are caused by smaller veins that function poorly and lead to fluid build-up and fragile skin. The fluid can also separate skin layers, leading to open wounds that are vulnerable to infection.
Pressure wounds or sores result from a lack of movement combined with pressure. Common in those who are bedridden, they are also called decubitus ulcers. They are often found on the back of the heel.
Pressure sores can start with redness and develop into open, draining wounds that are deep enough to involve the bone. Once the skin is broken they are very difficult to heal and can be extremely painful.
Foot wounds need to be taken seriously. They can easily become infected and a minor wound can become an open sore that will not heal. If you have diabetes or any other condition that compromises the circulation in your legs and feet, talk to your podiatrist about wound prevention and treatment.