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What Is the Treatment for an Ischemic Ulcer?

By Jennifer Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ischemic ulcers, also called arterial ulcers, are a type of skin lesion that appear as an open wound or laceration. They are most commonly caused by conditions that reduce blood supply, such as diabetes and atherosclerosis. Treatment for an ischemic ulcer includes treating underlying conditions and caring for the ulcers properly. It is necessary to treat the cause of the ulcer in order to prevent additional ulcers or worsening of existing ulcers. Proper care of the ulcer aids in preventing infection and promotes healing.

An ischemic ulcer is a breakage of the skin that occurs as a result of other conditions. These conditions commonly include high blood pressure, diabetes and atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of arteries in the body. Any condition that causes interference in blood flow can potentially lead to the development of ischemic ulcers. Managing the underlying condition is an important part of treating the ulcer and working to prevent the occurrence of future ulcers.

Caring for an ischemic ulcer is the second part of treatment. Cleaning ulcers that occur can be done with a mild soap and water. The ulcers should not be covered unless a doctor has instructed, because the wound can be exposed to bacteria and develop an infection. Following cleaning, the ulcer should be gently patted dry and allowed to continue air drying.

In some cases, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to be used. The antibiotic ointment is designed to treat or prevent an infection that can occur in an open wound. It should be applied as directed. Hands should be washed with an antibacterial soap before the ointment is applied to the ulcer.

An ischemic ulcer most commonly occurs in the lower legs or the feet. Due to this, doctors often recommend that patients examine these areas daily to ensure that additional ulcers do not appear. With existing ulcers, the legs and feet should be protected from cold weather. Patients should not walk barefoot, and footwear and/or clothing should be soft to avoid aggravating the ulcer.

When the causes of ischemic ulcers are controlled, the occurrence of the ulcers is reduced. Although managing underlying conditions can drastically help, it is possible to still experience an occasional ischemic ulcer. Proper care of ulcers that do appear can help reduce additional tissue damage that commonly occurs with these ulcers. Reducing the risk of infection also helps in limiting the amount of damage that can occur.

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