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Digital ulcers

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#1 AmeliaQ



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Posted 19 December 2010 - 03:02 AM

Hi, I've just started getting ulcers on my fingers and I have 3 at the moment. I'm looking for some practical advice on

A) how to prevent, the best emollient creams to use?
B) once you have one how to get them better - it's not infected but not healing either. Should I coverand if so with what or leave open; should I put any antiseptic powder or cream or anything else to help mend?

The doctors told me to try to prevent getting them by keeping moisturized, warm, taking losartan and if you then get one to get antibiotics if infected. Apart from that not much advice on how to care for an ulcer. They also suggested illoprost infusions but said there is a waiting list until March.

Any thoughts from seasoned ulcer sufferers would be greatly appreciated.


#2 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 03:26 AM

Hello Amelia

Welcome to the forums! We have great resources on site about digital ulcers that you'll hopefully find useful.

No doubt other with ulcer experience will join in shortly. I've just been diagnosed with my first ulcer, it's a pressure sore on the back of my right ankle and is rather large. Unfortunately they're a very different thing from digital ulcers so I can't really help other than to say ouch!

Take care and keep posting.

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#3 Joelf


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Posted 19 December 2010 - 05:15 AM

Hi Amelia

A warm welcome to these forums!

I'm very sorry to hear that you're suffering with digital ulcers. Although I get Raynaud's quite badly in my fingers, thankfully I haven't yet had any digital ulcers so can't actually advise you from my own experience. However, quite a few of our members do have them and they will probably be able to give you some more information.

Your doctor's advice sounds helpful, but I wonder whether you have considered consulting a Scleroderma expert as it is a very complex disease and unfortunately many doctors/rheumatologists do not have the specialised knowledge to deal with it. We have a list HERE which I hope you will find helpful.

Do please post again and let us know how you're faring. :)
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#4 CraigR


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Posted 19 December 2010 - 07:31 AM


No doubt you are aware that you need to get more blood flow to your fingers. Members of this forum have had success with various drugs: ED drugs(Viagra[Revatio], Cialis etc.); calcium channel blockers (Nifedipine, Adalat, etc.); Nitroglycerine cream; Prazosin (an old blood pressure medication) and other medications. Effectiveness is very mixed - what works for some doesn't work for others.

I've had this problem off and on for over thirty years. At times I've found it necessary to do my own research to propose to doctors, who were often lacking in awareness of treating this problem (and not aware of how painful it can be!).

Gloves are obviously helpful - for the warmth as well as the reduction in stress to the surface of your hands.

Additionally, it is wise to keep up your body's core temperature. Since the body naturally tends to restrict circulation when the core temperature drops, you can get attacks even when you think your keeping your hands warm. For example, a big drink of a cold beverage might easily restrict your circulation.

Stress to the hands is also bad. At my worst time, I was engaged in a hobby that included restringing grand pianos. A really bad sort of thing to do with Raynauds!

Good Luck,


#5 Dorothy



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Posted 19 December 2010 - 08:29 AM

Hi - I have a couple threatening to open up this week...

I wrap a thin strip of foam around the area then secure with a bandaid. That way I'm still using the finger. It's cushioned against small bangs. But there's no adhesive touching and pulling at the skin. 

And I keep that hand especially warm by tucking one of those 10 hour chemical heating pads on my wrist/forearm. I cover the pad to keep from getting too hot and risking a blister...

If it gets worse I'll call my doctor about increasing my medication dose.

Good luck!

#6 CraigR


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Posted 19 December 2010 - 03:54 PM

Something I forgot to mention:

Doctors are often hesitant to prescribe vasodilators because they tend to lower blood pressure. Should this be a concern, there are blood pressure devices that are easy to operate and can be purchased at any drug store/pharmacy. The doctor might be more agreeable if you agree to monitor your blood pressure.


#7 Sweet


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Posted 22 December 2010 - 04:36 AM

Hi Amelia,

Welcome to our family! So glad you've joined us. I'm sorry for the problems you are having. I haven't had any ulcers yet, and I hope I never do. They look so painful! The link Amanda gave you is a good one, I hope that it helps. :flowers:
Warm and gentle hugs,

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#8 AmeliaQ



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Posted 25 December 2010 - 12:29 AM

Hi Dorothy,
thanks for your help. can you send me a PM (private message) with what type of foam do you put on the finger? do you put a gauze between the the foam? do you recommend putting on any ointment or powder spray on?

#9 debonair susie

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 05:53 AM

Amelia, I too welcome you to our Scleroderma Family's Forum.

You have received EXCELLENT information from Craig who, as he mentioned, has first-hand knowledge as to what works well for treating/healing ulcers.

I also like Dorothy's way of protecting her ulcers as they heal.

Like Joelf, I have Raynauds Phenomenon, yet have had no ulcers, to date.

I hope with the great suggestions, you are able to find rapid healing relief!
Special Hugs,

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#10 barefut


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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:34 AM

Hi Amelia,

Craig's reply is awesome - I myself have used nitro cream and I take calcium channel blockers. My rheumatologist can't stress enough how important it is to keep your core body temp warm as well since a chill can send you into a Raynaud's spasm.

I tried keeping my nail just long enough to protect my fingertip when I had my worst ulcer years ago. It helped because I could not stand any kind of slpint or bandage on it - too painful.

I hope you find some true relief very soon!

#11 omaeva


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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:40 AM


Ulcers are so bad!
I couldn't deal with any of the medication I was given because it lowered my blood pressure so much I just felt worse.
I was on prozac for a little bit; it helped with the blood flow issues, but most importantly it helped using lots of lotion after each time my hands got wet. I also no longer do dishes without gloves. Staying warm is super important to me as well; I always bring a sweater, even in the summer since my hands react very badly to air conditioning. Also if you get an ulcer don't pick at it (Learned this one the hard way).

Those are just some tips, but alas I am getting the sympathectamy soon. This will be part of the surgery to remove some calcium deposits and my doctor worries that I will not heal properly otherwise.

- O