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Ulcers are skin wounds that are slow to heal. In the foot, as prominent metatarsal heads on the plantar (bottom of the foot)are subjected to increased pressure, the skin begins to become callused. When subjected to shearing forces, there is a separation between the layers on this callused skin, which fills with fluid and becomes contaminated and infected. The result is a foot ulcer.
Ulcers are classified in four stages, according to how deeply they penetrate the layers of skin they have broken through.
The four stages of ulcers are:
The are also four major cause of foot ulcers:
Foot ulcers are a common problem for diabetics. Contact casts are sometimes applied to the diabetic foot to relieve the bony prominent areas of pressure, allowing ulcers to heal.