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What are ischemic wounds?

Photo: What are ischemic wounds?
Ischemic wounds occur as a result of blocked blood supply to vascular beds in the body. Most often these types of wounds form on the legs, feet and toes. In particular they occur frequently on the shins, tops or sides of feet as well as the tips of toes or between the toes where the skin tends to rub together.

Causes

Blocked supply to any part of the body deprives the affected tissue of essential nutrients, causing damage at the cellular level where processes require oxygen to progress. One of the major causes of blocked blood supply is atherosclerosis, this is where the arterial walls slowly thicken and become less elastic preventing blood to flow properly through these blood vessels. People who already suffer from arterial insufficiency and numbness in their lower limb regions are also at an increased risk of developing ischemic wounds. These include diabetic sufferers with mismanaged diabetes.
Symptoms

Characteristically ischemic wounds can be yellow, grey or black in colour. They usually are not known to bleed. Some swelling may be present surrounding the wound depending upon the presence of any localised infection. Upon observing ischemic wounds have a slightly sunken appearance where the edges are raised. Patients have reported these wounds to be quite painful, with the pain only subsiding when the leg is dangling down. This may be due to gravity forcing increased blood circulation to the wound area.

Treatment

Treatment largely depends upon the severity of the wound. In extreme cases doctors may recommend surgery to bypass the blocked blood vessels in order to restore blood circulation to the affected area. The primary aim of treatment is to reduce pain, prevent further development of such wounds, continuously monitor the wounds and prevent it from spreading and to monitor for signs of any infection.

Owing to the difficulty in treating ischemic wounds, health professionals advise various preventative measures to those at risk. These include quitting smoking, take part in regular physical activity, maintain adequate water intake and maintain a healthy diet to prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes— all of which are risk factors in the development of ischemic wounds.

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