Skin Diseases

Skin Ulcers

Skin Ulcer Treatment at Illinois Dermatology Institute

Skin ulcers are a fairly common skin condition that affects thousands of people each year. More prevalent in older adults, they can cause debilitating symptoms if left untreated for long periods.
At IDI, we understand that skin infections and conditions, such as skin ulcers, can significantly impact overall health and well-being. We also recognize that skin infections could be a sign or symptom of another underlying health condition, like diabetes or vein issues.
If you or a loved one is currently living with a skin ulcer, it is vital to get it treated promptly to avoid a serious infection or illness that could impact the affected body area.

Let’s discuss skin ulcers in more detail for a clearer understanding.

What are skin ulcers?

Skin ulcers are open sores caused by poor blood circulation.
Healthy blood flow is an essential component of wound healing.
If you’ve been diagnosed with blood circulation problems or venous insufficiency, minor scrapes and cuts may not be able to heal as quickly or as adequately as they should.
Over time, if a wound is left untreated and does not heal well, it could lead to a skin ulcer.


Skin ulcers most often affect the legs but can also occur on the feet, back, and hips and look like a round open sore on the skin’s surface.
Skin ulcers typically start as minor skin discoloration. As they become worse, they give off a crater-like appearance which may weep clear fluid or blood.
Other symptoms may include:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • tenderness
  • itchiness
  • pain
  • changes in skin texture
  • yellow or green pus discharge due to infection


There are four major types of ulcers. Although similar in appearance, they are different in their cause and symptoms.

  • Pressure (decubitus) Ulcers – Also known as pressure sores, this type is caused by continuous pressure on the skin. They develop on bony areas such as the back, hips, ankles, or heels.
  • Venous Ulcers– This type of ulcer is a direct result of poor blood circulation in the veins of the legs. They usually appear between the knees and ankles. About 90% of all leg ulcers are venous ulcers.
  • Arterial Ulcers– Also known as ischemic ulcers, this type occurs when poor circulation is caused by one or more blocked arteries. They most often accept the lower leg, feet, toes, ankles, or heels.
  • Neuropathic Ulcers– This rarer ulcer is caused by nerve damage and narrowed arteries. They are more commonly referred to as diabetic foot ulcers and can affect all areas of the feet, including the toes and heels.

Skin Ulcer Treatment Options

No matter what type of skin ulcer treatment you get, the main goal is to heal the wound and treat any infection.
Some common and viable treatment options include:

  • Wound dressing
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain medication

In rare instances, if you’re living with a large ulcer that does not respond to other treatment methods, you may require a skin graft or other type of surgery.
To learn more about skin ulcer treatment methods for one that you may be living with now, book an appointment now. Our team of medical dermatologists is here to help mitigate symptoms and get you feeling better sooner.

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