Venous Leg Ulcer
A leg ulcer is a long-lasting (chronic) sore that takes more than four to six weeks to heal. They usually develop on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle. The symptoms of a venous leg ulcer include pain, itching and swelling in the affected leg. There may also be discoloured or hardened skin around the ulcer, and the sore may produce a foul-smelling discharge.
What causes venous leg ulcers?
A venous leg ulcer is the most common type of leg ulcer, accounting for over 90% of all cases.Venous leg ulcers can develop after a minor injury, where persistently high pressure in the veins of the legs has damaged the skin.
People are more at risk of developing one if they’ve previously had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or find it difficult to walk because of a problem such as:
- Leg injury
There is also more risk if there had been recently an operation on the leg, such as a hip replacement or knee replacement. People with varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins) also have a higher risk of developing venous leg ulcers.
Types of leg ulcer
Other common types of leg ulcer include:
- Arterial leg ulcers – caused by poor blood circulation in the arteries
- Diabetic leg ulcers – caused by the high blood sugar associated with diabetes
- Vasculitic leg ulcers – associated with chronic inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Traumatic leg ulcers – caused by injury to the leg
- Malignant leg ulcers – caused by a tumour of the skin of the leg
Most ulcers caused by artery disease or diabetes occur on the foot rather than the leg.
Treating a venous leg ulcer
How venous leg ulcers are treated
Most venous leg ulcers heal within three to four months if they’re treated by a healthcare professional trained in compression therapy for leg ulcers.
Treatment usually involves:
- Cleaning and dressing the wound
- Using compression stocking, to improve the flow of blood in the legs.
Antibiotics may also be used if the ulcer becomes infected, but they don’t help ulcers to heal.
However, unless the underlying cause of the ulcer is addressed, there’s a high risk of a venous leg ulcer recurring after treatment. Underlying causes could include immobility, obesity, previous DVT, or varicose veins.
To improve vein circulation in the legs and treat swelling, a firm compression stocking has to be worn over the affected leg. PROVENO stocking are designed to squeeze the legs and encourage blood to flow upwards, towards the heart.The application of a compression stocking is a skilled procedure and they should only be applied by trained healthcare staff.
The stocking is changed once a week, when the dressing is changed.Venous leg ulcers are often accompanied by swelling of the feet and ankles (oedema), which is caused by fluid. This can be controlled by wearing PROVENO compression stocking.
After the ulcer has healed
There is a chance of venous leg ulcer to develop within months or years, even after it had been cured once.The most effective method of preventing this is to wear PROVENO compression stocking at all times when the patient is out of bed.