Venous leg ulcer management: Five key steps

20th February 2017 by Daryll Baker0

A venous leg ulcer is a sore on the leg that takes a long time to heal, usually more than four to six weeks. The most common place for a leg ulcer to appear is in the inside of the leg, just above the ankle.
Those suffering from a leg ulcer may experience pain, swelling of the affected area, and itching. The skin around the leg ulcer may also harden and become discoloured. A bad-smelling odour may also be produced from the ulcer.
The most common type of leg ulcer is the venous leg ulcer, which account for more than 90% of all leg ulcer cases. Venous leg ulcers are more common in elderly people, and it is estimated that around 1 in 50 people aged 80 or above, suffer with leg ulcers.
How to treat and manage venous leg ulcers
With the right treatment, leg ulcers can be treated effectively. Some of the key steps of leg ulcer management include:
• Seeing a professionally trained healthcare specialist to diagnose the wound and provide advice on causes and treatment
• Once diagnosed, the affected area will need to be cleaned and dressed. The cleaning and dressing of the ulcer will remove dead tissue and other debris from the wound, creating the best conditions for the ulcer to heal.
• Compression stockings and bandages are typically applied to the venous leg ulcer in order to support the wound and improve the blood flow in the legs by squeezing the legs and encouraging the blood to flow towards the heart.
• Pain killers may be prescribed. The pain however should begin to lessen when the leg ulcer starts to heal.
• Antibiotics may also be prescribed in cases where in leg ulcer has become infected. However, it is important to note that antibiotics don’t help leg ulcers to heal but will help the body fight the infection.
Exploring the underlying cause of the venous leg ulcer
Whilst the careful management of a leg ulcer by a healthcare professional will successfully heal the sore, unless the underlying cause of the condition is addressed, patients are at risk of the leg ulcer returning.
Some of the most common reasons as to why venous leg ulcers appear, include obesity, varicose veins, immobility and age.
People can reduce the risk of being susceptible to venous leg ulcer by exercising regularly, wearing compression stockings, elevating their legs when possible and losing weight if they are overweight.
If you require treatment for venous leg ulcers, get in touch with the Vascular Consultancy, specialists in the diagnose and treatment of vascular conditions.

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Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.


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