There is a very freeing feeling about taking your shoes off, whether it is at home after work or to enjoy a hot day at the beach or the cool grass at a family cookout. The warmer weather means we have even more opportunities to go barefoot or wear a favorite pair of sandals, but that also means more opportunities for cuts, sores and bug bites on our feet.

Any wound that is left untreated can develop into a larger problem, and that is certainly true for those on your feet. Once these wounds develop into a foot ulcer, you open yourself up for potential infection that could develop into an abscess, bone infections or gangrene. Here’s how to identify a foot ulcer.

Symptoms. An ulcer has the appearance of a red crater in your skin, and is often located on the side, bottom, or tip of a toe. The crater will often be bordered by thick, callused skin. Depending on how the ulcer is impacting nerves in the foot, pain may or may not be associated.

Diagnosis. There are many potential causes of foot ulcers, but most are quickly diagnosed with a visual test by your doctor. Further evaluation will help determine depth of the ulcer, whether the area is infected, and potential nerve damage.

Prevention. If you have a medical condition that could cause foot ulcers your doctor should have you on a screening program. For ulcers that develop from foot wounds, there are several strategies to follow:

• Regular visual examinations to check for new cracks, calluses or sores.

• Daily washing with mild soap and warm water followed by lotion application

• Check your shoes to ensure proper fit and make sure they are free of any foreign objects that could irritate your skin

• Keep a change of socks available whenever possible to remove a pair that gets wet or sweaty

Even with proper preventative care, you could still develop an ulcer. Early detection and diagnosis will make for easier treatment; your doctor will develop a treatment plan specific to your case. If you are worried a wound on your foot has developed into an ulcer, schedule an appointment with our expert team today.