What are ulcers?

Ulcers are open sores on the body caused by broken skin that fails to heal.

Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Diabetic foot ulcers are a frequent complication of diabetes mellitus. Individuals with diabetes are prone to foot ulcers because of two main factors:

a) Reduced sensation on the feet.

Elevated blood sugar over time can damage the nerves that deliver messages about sensation and pain to the brain. This is called neuropathy. Loss of sensation on the feet means that individuals with diabetes might not notices small cuts, scrapes or blisters on their feet. Left untreated, these minor injuries can escalate into a more serious problem, like an ulcer.

b) Narrowing of blood vessels (arteries) going to the feet.

Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is characterized by narrowing of the arteries. This narrowing causes reduced blood flow in the extremities. With reduced blood circulation to the feet, skin does not heal as quickly as in unaffected individuals. When minor injuries take longer to heal, individuals are at an increased risk of having those injuries become ulcers.

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