Foot Infection from Peripheral Vascular Disease: How Do You Manage Your Foot Ulcers?

A Symptom of PVD

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a set of conditions that, in most cases, effect the arms and legs. Patients with PVD suffer from insufficient blood circulation in their extremities. A common symptom of PVD is ulcers on the skin, which are easily infected. If you have a foot infection from peripheral vascular disease, schedule an appointment with your physician so that you can begin treatment. It is important to point out that diabetic patients are particularly at risk for developing ulcers on their legs and feet.

These ulcers are the result of lack of proper blood flow in the legs caused by either arterial or venous insufficiency. If you have been diagnosed with PVD, it is important to take care of your feet and legs to prevent ulcers from forming. If they have already appeared, treatment must begin immediately to keep further complications from forming.

Causes

Foot infections from peripheral vascular disease have two main causes. Ulcers form when portions of the skin are not receiving adequate oxygenated blood. The underlying causes are either arterial or venous.

If the cause is arterial, you may be displaying symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This is a condition in which arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart, outside the heart are blocked by plaques, a condition called atherosclerosis. Patients with PAD do not get sufficient blood flow to the extremities. Ulcers can occur as result of either trauma or pressure, and, due to the insufficient blood supply, do not heal properly. Ulcers from PAD tend to occur on the heels and the tips of toes or between toes.

If the cause is venous, it is the result of blood pooling in the extremities and not being returned to the heart by veins. Venous ulcers tend to occur on the inner portion of the lower legs.

Prevention

The first step in management of foot and leg ulcers is prevention. Patients with an increased risk of developing ulcers should practice diligent foot care. Wash your feet in warm water on a daily basis. This limits excessive bacterial growth and the warm water dilates blood vessels stimulating proper circulation. Dry your feet gently, making sure to dry between your toes. Examine your legs and feet everyday, noting any spots, cracks or changes in color. Apply a moisturizer to your legs and tops and bottoms of your feet, but not between your toes. Cut your toenails after washing, so the nails are soft.

Treatment

If you are already suffering from foot and leg ulcers, your physician will develop a PVD treatment plan tailored to your specific case. However, some common treatment options include regular cleaning of the wound, protecting the wound, either topical or oral antibiotics to treat the infection and treatment of the underlying cause of the ulcer.

Treatment of foot and leg ulcers must begin immediately. Seriously infected ulcers may result in gangrenous tissue. Advanced, untreated cases sometimes require amputation of the foot or leg.

References

Merck Manual: Occlusive Peripheral Arterial Disease

The University of Sydney: Peripheral Vascular Disease

Cleveland Clinic: Lower Extremity (Leg and Foot) Ulcers

DermNet NZ: Leg Ulcers

British Medical Journal: Management of Venous Leg Ulcers