There are about 200,000 cases of leg and foot ulcers 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.
Venous Ulcers, What They Are
Usually, when a person gets a wound, it will heal within a few days or weeks. But, in some cases, they either do not want to heal or they simply keep returning. 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.
How You Get Them
In most cases, ulcers are caused by either venous or arterial disease.
Venous disease is the most common cause, accounting for 80 percent of ulcer cases in America. This kind of disease occurs when veins are not able to work properly, usually because the valves inside the veins have become faulty.
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 increased pressure in the vein which can cause the skin in the surrounding area to thin and become inflamed, leading to a venous ulcer.
Around 15 percent of ulcers are caused by arterial disease, which causes poor blood circulation. In other words, one of the arteries in the legs may become blocked, slowing or stopping blood flow entirely.
As a result, the tissues surrounding that area are unable to get the nutrients that your blood provides them with, which leads to arterial leg and foot ulcers.
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.
8 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 8 tips to help you prevent ulcer formation.
- Where compression stockings, or compression bandages in more severe cases, all 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.
- Keep your legs elevated. 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. 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.
- 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.
“Around 15 percent of ulcers are caused by arterial disease, which causes poor blood circulation. In other words, one of the arteries in the legs may become blocked, slowing or stopping blood flow entirely.”
5. Exercise is a great way to ensure that blood is flowing throughout your entire body. The better your blood flow, particularly in your legs, the less you are at risk of an ulcer and a number of other vein problems.
6. Eating a lot of whole fruits and vegetables is another way to prevent ulcers and vein problems from forming. Your body needs the vitamins and nutrients these kinds of foods can provide, as they keep your blood strong, and help it to flow more readily throughout your body.
7. 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.
8. Maintain your existing health conditions. If you are a diabetic, you are at a higher risk for developing leg and foot ulcers. Because of that, it is incredibly important that you take good care of your body and health. Monitor your glucose, take your insulin and other medication as prescribed, eat a well-balanced diet, and see your doctor regularly.
There are many ways to prevent leg ulcers from forming, but these are the 8 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.