Sickle cell ulcers affect around 75% of all sickle cell sufferers and can prove extremely painful and debilitating for the patient. Management of sickle cell ulcers relies on the effective implementation of good wound care practices. However, even under optimal treatment conditions, sickle cell ulcers can prove extremely intractable and may persist for several months or even years. One of the most important considerations when managing sickle cell ulcers is to manage the patient’s pain. This can prove extremely challenging, and often requires systemic treatment as well as topical management. In many cases, intervention from a pain specialist is required.
Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes the bone marrow to produce red blood cells with defective hemoglobin.
Leg ulcers are a common complication of sickle cell disease. Sickle cell leg ulcers appear either spontaneously or as a result of local trauma, and they often persist for a long time.
Sickle cell ulcers usually begin as small, elevating crusting sores on the lower third of the leg. They can be single or multiple. Some heal rapidly, but others persist for years or heal, but then recur in the same area of scar tissue.
The periwound tissue may present with hyperpigmentation and loss of subcutaneous fat and hair follicles.
These ulcers can be very painful, and they are often accompanied by infection. Because of their common presentation, sickle cell ulcers are commonly mistaken for venous insufficiency ulcers.
Learn More About Sickle Cell Ulcers
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