There are about 200,000 cases of venous ulcers in the leg and foot a year, making it a fairly common problem. These types of wounds are not just unsightly, but they can also be incredibly dangerous if not taken care of properly. If you know or suspect you have an ulcer, contact your doctor immediately to see about getting antibiotics to help clear up the problem. In addition, it’s extremely important to understand what the underlying cause is, so you can prevent recurrence.
Is it a Wound or an Ulcer?
Usually, when a person gets a wound, it will heal within a few days or weeks. But, in some cases, those wounds simply do not heal or they continue to return over and over again. In this case, it is not just an ordinary wound, but an ulcer that is either venous or arterial.
While ulcers can happen anywhere in the body, leg and foot ulcers are incredibly common. With these kinds of ulcers, there may be a problem within the leg veins or arteries that are not allowing the wound to heal fully.
What Causes Leg Ulcers?
In most cases, ulcers are caused by either venous or arterial disease. Venous leg ulcers can develop after a minor injury, where persistently high pressure in the vein’s valves has damaged the skin. This pressure may first cause skin discoloration that may look like bruising. If left untreated, this pressure can cause a minor injury to fester.
When valves of the veins in the legs are healthy, they will allow blood to go up from the legs and towards the heart while circulating throughout the body. However, when they are not working properly, blood may not go back into the legs. This can lead to this increased pressure in the vein which can cause the skin in the surrounding area to thin and become inflamed, leading to a venous ulcer. This inflammation may be accompanied by hardened, itchy skin or tenderness around the area.
Are All Leg Wounds Venous Ulcers?
No. However, over 90 percent of all leg ulcers are caused by underlying venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. Around 10 percent of ulcers are caused by arterial disease, which occurs when one of the arteries in the legs may becomes blocked by plaque.
No matter the type of ulcer, they are both caused by the affected tissue not being able to retain nutrients. During healthy circulation, these nutrients and oxygen travel with the blood to the lower extremities. When tissue doesn’t get nutrients, it may start to die and become infected.
Venous and arterial disease are not the only possible causes of ulcers in the legs and feet. People who have certain health conditions may be more susceptible to ulcers. This includes anybody who has diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney failure, Lymphedema, and a number of inflammatory diseases.
6 Tips for Preventing Venous Ulcers
There are a number of things you can do in order to prevent ulcers from forming at all. If you have already had an ulcer, then you also have a higher risk of another one forming, making prevention even more important. Here are six tips to help you prevent ulcer formation:
1. Wear Compression Stockings
Where compression stockings, or compression bandages in more severe cases throughout the day. Compression stockings are commonly prescribed as a treatment method for those who have vein problems or are at risk for developing them. These kind of stockings are much tighter than a regular pair of socks or stockings, which encourages blood to move up your legs. Wearing them will prevent your legs from swelling and also help prevent blood clot formation. Compression stockings are usually prescribed to people either before or after treatment to reduce swelling and inflammation. This is not a permanent solution and is used in conjunction with vein treatment.
Put those “doggies” up. Elevation is extremely important when it comes to your legs. When you are sitting in a normal position, you are allowing blood to pool, rather than flow freely. By elevating our legs in some way, you are encouraging blood flow to continue from your legs back up to your heart.
Keep skin well moisturized, especially during the fall and winter months. When your skin gets dried out, it is much more prone to cracking and bleeding, which is a major cause of ulcers. For that reason, it is very important that you keep your skin moisturized, as it will prevent it from breaking or cracking easily. This is especially important during the winter when your skin is more likely to dry out. This will not prevent venous ulcers; however, when used with vein treatment, it can help reduce recurrence.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight loss and weight management are two other methods of preventing ulcers. This is because too much strain on your legs can lead to a number of vein diseases, such as varicose and spider veins, which make it more likely that you will get an ulcer. Maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) can reduce the pressure on veins that are already damaged. After vein treatment, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the likelihood of getting additional varicose or spider veins.
“Around 90 percent of ulcers are caused by venous disease, which is the cause of poor circulation in the lower extremities. Treating underlying vein disease can lower your risk of venous ulcers and reduce their severity.”
5. Quit Smoking
Letting go of bad habits such as smoking is another way that you can further prevent ulcers from forming. Smoking has a negative impact on the circulation of blood through your body and poor circulation, as said before, is one of the major causes of leg ulcers. By giving up smoking, you are allowing your body to try and recover from the negative effects it had on your body while also preventing ulcers.
6. Schedule Vein Treatment
Many of our patients have shared with us that they waited months before getting vein treatment, even though they had a slow or non-healing leg ulcer. Despite this visible sign of vein disease, they hoped the ulcer would heal on its own. Waiting for leg ulcers to heal on their own, could cause them to get worse or get infected. Treating the root cause can also prevent other health concerns such as: blood clots, skin discoloration, and burst veins.
There are many ways to prevent leg ulcers from forming, but these are the six most important ways to do so. Take good care of your overall health and veins, and ulcers may never become a problem for you. If you are worried about them, talk to your doctor, and they can give more detailed information on ulcers and preventative treatments that you can do.
Treating the Cause of Venous Ulcers
You may have searched, “how to heal an ulcer on the leg” in Google and found that you can apply antibiotic ointment to your wound. However, this is only a temporary solution that may cause venous ulcers to return. It important to keep the wound clean and treat it with ointment; however, you may also need to schedule vein treatment.
Vein treatment like Endovenous Laser Treatment, ClariVein, Varithena, or Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy can close diseased veins in your legs and reroute blood flow to healthier ones. Once blood is rerouted, circulation will improve and venous ulcers should be able to heal on their own.
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If you’re ready to live life without venous ulcers, call us at 888.768.3467 or click the button below to schedule your appointment online.