As is the case with any damaged tissue, untreated foot ulcers can lead to potentially serious complications. These complications, such as infection and nerve damage, are especially serious for patients with additional risk factors such as diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
According to the American Diabetes Association, foot ulcers most commonly form on the big toe or the ball of the foot. As these locations are subject to most of the pressure of walking, recovery from foot ulcers can be compromised by damage to the delicate scar tissue that forms there. Another common complication of foot ulcers is infection. Feet are uniquely prone to infection, as they are often in contact with the ground or exposed to the warm, dark confines of ill-fitting shoes. Either of these conditions encourage the growth of bacteria, which find hospitable conditions in ulcerated tissue. If a foot ulcer has become infected, it may be necessary to have the diseased and necrotic tissue surgically removed at the hospital.
Chronic foot ulcers are often associated with the circulatory and nerve damage caused by diabetes. In severe cases, the combination of damaged blood vessels, damaged nerves and slow-to-heal ulcers require amputation of the affected foot.