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Venous ulcers are open sores that occur on the skin. They can occur on any area of the body but are most of the time found on the legs. These chronic sores don’t heal and keep recurring if you don’t get treatment. Usually, when you get injured, the body sends signals to the brain and the healing process begins. With ulcers, however, this doesn’t happen. Instead, the wound remains open for weeks. Venous leg ulcers develop due to poor circulation. The veins don’t push blood back to the heart as they should. Instead, blood backs up in the veins leading to pressure buildup. Most venous leg ulcers develop on the inside of the leg above the ankle. While these types of ulcers can affect anyone, they are more common in women. Early treatment is the only way of ensuring that life-threatening complications don’t occur.
Different types of chronic ulcers can affect the foot and leg. They include;
These types of ulcers occur on the inside of the foot between the knee and ankle. They can affect one or both legs. They are the most common types of leg ulcers accounting for over 80% of all leg ulcer cases. Venous stasis ulcers appear red and are covered with yellow fibrous tissue. If the ulcer gets infected, a yellow or green discharge oozes out. The area bordering the sore will be irregular and the skin may either be swollen or discolored. The area may also feel hot or warm to the touch and depending on the degree of swelling it may be tight and shiny.
Also known as diabetic ulcers, neurotrophic ulcers occur at the bottom of the foot. This area has more pressure points. They can also occur in other areas of the foot especially in the case of trauma. These ulcers may appear red, pink, black, or brown if blood circulation is limited. Neurotrophic ulcers affect mostly diabetic patients and those with damaged nerves.
These types of ulcers occur on the heels and toe tips. They also occur in areas where toes rub against each other and where the bone protrudes out. They may also occur in the nail bed when a toenail cuts into the skin. Arterial ulcers appear yellow, grey, black, or brown. They also don’t bleed. These types of ulcers develop due to poor blood circulation.
Venous leg ulcers are open and painful sores and take more than four weeks to heal. Other symptoms that may go with venous leg ulcers include;
If you have a venous leg ulcer, it won’t heal without treatment. Diagnosis depends on the symptoms and appearance of the ulcer. The doctor conducts a physical exam and may also order extra tests to determine the cause of the ulcer. Usually, a doctor can tell if you have a regular sore or a leg ulcer by looking at the area. The doctor may also order a CT scan, X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.
Treating venous leg ulcers involves preventing infections and relieving pain.
If the sore has produced a discharge, it means that it has already gotten infected. In that case, the doctor will put you on antibiotics.
If there is swelling, compression bandages help manage the swelling. They also close up the wound so that there is no infection.
Sometimes the wound may lead to mobility issues. In such a case, you may need braces or orthotics to help you walk.
The doctor may also put you under medications to improve blood circulation and prevent blood clotting. Such medications include pentoxifylline and aspirin.
If you have a leg ulcer, preventing infection and recurrence should be your top priority. First of all, if you suspect that you may have a venous ulcer, see a doctor immediately. Treatment involves improving circulation and correcting vein problems causing fluid to build up. Either way;
To prevent venous leg ulcers in the first place, you need to ensure that you keep vein problems at bay. This means making hard but necessary lifestyle changes like;
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!