A sore in the skin of the leg caused by leg swelling and problems with your veins
It may start with a small injury to your skin
In people with bad veins or a lot of leg swelling, the skin sore may not heal and get bigger. This is a chronic venous leg ulcer.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The leg is usually swollen and may feel slightly warm to touch Skin changes around the ulcer: feels dry and itchy, possibly with red brown freckles
Sometimes these ulcers are painful, others do not hurt much
Ulcers may have liquid drainage that can be clear or yellowish and can run down the leg
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
The exact treatment will be different for each person but for most venous ulcers, treatment will include:
Keeping the leg up: When your leg is up it takes some pressure off the stretched veins. Raising your feet above the level of your heart is best. Put your legs up whenever you can
Bandages: Often the nurse will bandage the ulcer to keep it clean and decrease swelling so it can heal
Lessen the swelling in the leg: Your doctor will try to reduce the swelling in your leg to help the ulcer heal and to keep it from coming back. Using special bandages or stockings can help keep pressure in the leg veins low
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE THE ULCER TO HEAL?
Most chronic venous ulcers will heal in 3-4 months but sometimes they can take much longer.
Treatment can be harder in patients who are overweight or have leg swelling that will not go away
It is very rare for venous ulcers to get so bad that the leg must be amputated
HOW CAN I HELP MYSELF?
Get regular exercise. Walk around as much as possible or when you are sitting move your feet around and up and down
Keep your legs up as much as possible
Wear support stockings if they are recommended. The stockings help keep your legs from swelling
Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes
Protect your skin and legs. Keep your skin clean and try not to let your skin get too dry. Take care not to bang your feet or legs on sharp corners or objects
Check your feet and legs regularly. Look for sores or changes in color - use a mirror if needed. Let your health care team know right away if you think you are getting an ulcer
Eat and drink regularly. Include protein (meat, fish, beans, and dairy products) with your meals