Leg ulcers are breaks in the skin on the leg. A leg ulcer makes it possible for bacteria to enter the tissue under the skin. Many things can cause a leg ulcer, but these ulcers are usually related to some injury of the skin. Even minor injuries to the leg can start a leg ulcer.
For most healthy individuals, a leg ulcer will heal on its own in a week or two. Unfortunately, if infection causes an underlying problem in the skin, it can’t heal on its own. The ulcer will then grow larger, at which point it becomes a chronic leg ulcer.
Venous disease causes a vast majority of all leg ulcers. Other causes of leg ulcers are:
- Arterial disease, which means the arteries are not working properly.
- Various other causes, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and some rare conditions.
- Two or more conditions may cause the damage at the same time.
Venous disease causes leg ulcers because they do not appropriately carry the blood back up to the heart. Valves in the heart ensure that blood flows only up the leg, and not down the leg. If these veins are damaged, blood can flow down the legs, causing very high pressure in the legs when a person stands up. Blood clots also can cause the damage that leads to high pressure in the legs when standing. When high pressure occurs in the legs, the skin becomes damaged, and ulcers can occur.
- Elevation of the Limb The higher the leg remains, the lower the pressure in the leg becomes. The leg must be elevated to a level above the heart. One of the best places to elevate your legs is to place them on the arms of a sofa while you recline. Another simple way to elevate your legs or feet is to put several books under the foot of your bed, so it’s higher than the head.
- Compression Bandages or Stockings Support hose or bandaging your leg with an elastic bandage may be required to give your legs the support they need to avoid leg ulcers. You will need to see a doctor for this type of bandaging or hosiery because the leg must be specially fitted for your individual needs. Even after your leg ulcer heals you will probably need to wear your compression stockings to prevent a recurrence of the ulcer.
- Making Lifestyle Changes: Losing weight and increasing activity and exercise, and dietary and nutritional plans
- Preventative Measures: There is no known scientific method for preventing varicose veins, but there are ways of improving your circulation and muscle tone, thereby reducing the risk of developing varicose veins or getting additional ones.
- Support compression stockings: Provide external graduated counter-pressure to aid in venous blood flow to the heart. They reduce pooling and pressure in the veins and could reduce the risk of forming a deep vein blood clot.
If compression stockings and leg elevation do not heal the ulcer, Laser treatment of the underlying vein, perforator vein may be the next step to healing a leg ulcer. Our physicians at Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute can provide cosmetic and medical treatment via a customized service plan and prevention plan. For vein treatment in Fairfax, Virginia, call 703-560-1075 to contact Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute.