Signs Of An Infection
A venous leg ulcer can be susceptible to bacterial infection. Symptoms of an infected leg ulcer can include:
- worsening pain
A number of factors can increase your risk of developing a venous leg ulcer, including:
- obesity or being overweight this increases the pressure in the leg veins
- if you have difficulty walking this can weaken the calf muscles, which can affect circulation in the leg veins
- previous deep vein thrombosis blood clots that develop in the leg can damage valves in the veins
- varicose veins swollen and enlarged veins caused by malfunctioning valves
- previous injury to the leg, such as a broken or fractured bone, which may cause DVT or impair walking
- previous surgery to the leg, such as a hip replacement or knee replacement, which can prevent you from moving about
- increasing age people find it harder to move around as they get older, particularly if they suffer from arthritis
How To Treat Ulcers
If you do get an ulcer or notice a change in your skin that youâre not sure about, tell your doctor right away. Youâll likely get a procedure called debridement, which removes unhealthy tissue from the wound to spur healing.
Your doctor will also work with you to try to keep your sore or ulcer from getting infected and becoming bigger. Some of the steps they may recommend include:
Clean your ulcer daily. Use soap and water, unless your doctor recommends another cleanser. Donât use hydrogen peroxide or soak your wound in a bath or whirlpool, because this could reduce healing and may boost your odds of infection.
Keep your ulcer bandaged or covered with a wound dressing. While you may have heard that itâs important to âair outâ wounds, experts now know that not covering a wound actually increases the odds of infection and slows healing.
Keep pressure off your ulcer, especially if itâs on your foot. This may mean you need to use crutches, special footwear, a brace, or other devices. Reducing pressure and irritation helps ulcers heal faster.
Use the topical medications your doctor recommends. These may be saline, growth factors, and/or skin substitutes.
Keep your blood sugar under control. In addition to reducing your risk of ulcers, tight blood sugar control helps your body heal existing ulcers.
Cleveland Clinic Heart Vascular & Thoracic Institute Vascular Medicine Specialists And Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your vascular disease depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. The following Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with all types of vascular disease, including blood clotting disorders:
Section of Vascular Medicine: for evaluation, medical management or interventional procedures to treat vascular disease. In addition, the Non-Invasive Laboratory includes state-of-the art computerized imaging equipment to assist in diagnosing vascular disease, without added discomfort to the patient. Call Vascular Medicine Appointments, toll-free 800-223-2273, extension 44420 or request an appointment online.
Department of Vascular Surgery: surgery evaluation for surgical treatment of vascular disease, including aorta, peripheral artery, and venous disease. Call Vascular Surgery Appointments, toll-free 800-223-2273, extension 44508 or request an appointment online.
You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
The Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute also has specialized centers and clinics to treat certain populations of patients:
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Causes Of Venous Ulcers
Venous ulcers most often form around the ankles.
Venous ulcers typically occur because of damage to the valves inside the leg veins. These valves control the blood pressure inside the veins. They allow it to drop when you walk. If the blood pressure inside your leg veins doesn’t fall as you’re walking, the condition is called sustained venous hypertension. That increase in blood pressure causes ulcers to form on your ankles.
Venous ulcers may also be caused by other problems with your leg veins. These include:
Varicose veins. These are large, bulging leg veins. They occur when valves in the leg veins dont work well, allowing blood to collect in the lower leg.
Chronic venous insufficiency. Like varicose veins, this condition occurs when your leg veins cant pump blood back up to your heart. Blood then pools in your lower legs, causing your legs to swell. Since the blood can’t flow well in your legs, the swelling may be extreme. This extreme swelling can put so much pressure on your skin that venous ulcers form.
Skin Ulcers: A Comprehensive Guide To Skin Ulcer Treatment Types And Causes
A skin ulcer is an open, crater-shaped wound on your skin. If a skin ulcer is left untreated, it can develop into a more serious issue. Keep reading to find out everything about skin ulcers, including skin ulcer treatment, home remedies for ulcers, and what to do with untreated bedsores and sores that wont heal.
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How Are Leg Ulcers Treated
At Cleveland Clinic, patients are treated by a team of world-class experts in the Lower Extremity Wound Clinic in the Department of Vascular Medicine. This Clinic includes doctors, nurses and other medical specialists.
These experts work together to determine the cause of the ulcer and develop an individualized treatment program.
The goals of treatment are to relieve pain, speed recovery and heal the wound. Each patient’s treatment plan is individualized, based on the patient’s health, medical condition and ability to care for the wound.
Treatment options for all ulcers may include:
- Antibiotics, if an infection is present
- Anti-platelet or anti-clotting medications to prevent a blood clot
- Topical wound care therapies
- Prosthetics or orthotics, available to restore or enhance normal lifestyle function
Venous Ulcer Treatment
Venous ulcers are treated with compression of the leg to minimize edema or swelling. Compression treatments include wearing compression stockings, multi-layer compression wraps, or wrapping an ACE bandage or dressing from the toes or foot to the area below the knee. The type of compression treatment prescribed is determined by the physician, based on the characteristics of the ulcer base and amount of drainage from the ulcer.
The type of dressing prescribed for ulcers is determined by the type of ulcer and the appearance at the base of the ulcer. Types of dressings include:
- Moist to moist dressings
- Synthetic skin substitutes
Arterial Ulcer Treatment
When To Call A Healthcare Provider
If the ulcer is large or deep, growing in size, incredibly painful, or if you have any signs of infection , you notice a bad smell coming from your ulcer, or you’re running a fever, call your healthcare provider right away.
You’ll also want to call your healthcare provider if your ulcer, no matter how minor, isn’t showing signs healing after a week to 10 days.
In most cases, the ulcer will be dressed to protect the wound. However, if your ulcer is draining considerably, your healthcare provider may recommend leaving the wound uncovered. Dressing the ulcer if it’s draining considerably can impede healing.
If your ulcer is painful, pain medication can be prescribed. Antibiotics may also be prescribed either prophylactically to prevent infection or to treat an already infected wound.
Debridement is done to remove dead tissue from more serious ulcers. For deep ulcers or those that aren’t healing after a long period of time, skin grafts may be needed. In the most severe cases, part of the foot, leg, or other appendage may have to be amputated.
Restoring good circulation is key in treating and preventing ulcers. This includes elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, reducing pressure on ulcer-prone areas, superficial vein surgery. Leg ulcers, in particular, are incredibly likely to reoccur, so compression stockings are often needed to be worn for life.
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How To Use Sugar For Leg Ulcers
You may perhaps never imagine that sugar can be used to heal your leg ulcers and other skin wounds. But this ancient practice to treat leg ulcers has been in use in Egypt, Mesopotamia and many other parts of Africa and Asia for more than 3500 years. Use of sugar is now gaining appreciation in the medical services also.
Though individual researchers have found sufficient positive evidence of sugar healing leg ulcers comprehensively, no major randomised study has yet been undertaken by the medical fraternity. In fact one such study in the UK which healed leg ulcers of a wheelchair stuck man was given huge media coverage, yet the pharmaceutical industry is keeping quiet on this.
This is because sugar is too cheap and any expensive medical research cannot produce any commercial benefits to the pharmaceutical industry.
Referral To A Specialist
In some cases, your GP or nurse may decide to refer you to a specialist in conditions affecting the blood vessels .
For example, you may be referred to a vascular specialist if your GP or nurse is unsure about your diagnosis, or if they suspect your ulcer may be caused by artery diseases, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
After taking your medical history and examining you, the vascular specialist may need to arrange further investigations to plan your treatment.
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Swelling In The Legs And Ankles
Venous leg ulcers are often accompanied by swelling of your feet and ankles , which is caused by fluid. This can be controlled by compression bandages.
Keeping your leg elevated whenever possible, ideally with your toes above your hips, will also help ease swelling.
You should put a suitcase, sofa cushion or foam wedge under the bottom of your mattress to help keep your legs raised while you sleep.
You should also keep as active as possible and aim to continue with your normal activities.
Regular exercise, such as a daily walk, will help reduce leg swelling.
But you should avoid sitting or standing still with your feet down. You should elevate your feet at least every hour.
What Causes Leg Ulcers
Some of the most common diseases that lead to the formation of ulcers on your legs include:
- Venous Disease: This is one of the most common underlying causes of leg ulcers. It accounts for about 80% of cases of ulcers in the leg. Venous disease is usually a result of faulty valves in the veins. When the veins fail to push blood towards the heart, it flows back into the legs, eventually causing ulcers.
- Arterial Disease: Another disease that triggers leg ulcers is arterial disease. This accounts for 15% of leg ulcers and is a result of blocked arteries in the leg that inhibits blood flow to the underlying tissues.
- Other Medical Conditions: Leg ulcers can also be formed due to medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
So, how do you know if you have developed leg ulcers? Look out for the signs and symptoms mentioned below.
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What To Expect After Treatment With Cvm
At CVM, we’re ready to help diagnose and treat your leg ulcers at our select wound care locations:
Our expert team will carefully consider all potential chronic pelvic pain causes, with a special emphasis of diagnosing any potential vascular disorders.
We provide complete chronic pelvic treatment for pain. Aside from implementing innovative techniques to treat your pain, including treatments for vascular issues, we’re committed to listening to your concerns and treating your pain seriously. Many of our patients go on to have significant improvement or resolution of their symptoms.
Burn Blisters Healing Process
What to expect during the healing process Burn scars. If there is scarring across a body joint due to the healing process, many times it can limit movement of that area of the body. This happens because the body responds to the loss of skin by making the wound smaller. The skin on both sides of the joint comes together to heal the injured area.
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How Is A Venous Skin Ulcer Treated
The first step involves improving blood circulation. To do this, you can:
- Lift your legs above the level of your heart as often as possible. For example, lie down and then prop up your legs with pillows.
- Wear compression stockings or bandages. These help prevent blood from pooling in your legs.
- Walk daily. Walking helps your blood circulation.
To help your ulcer heal, your doctor may also remove dead tissue from the wound .
After your ulcer has healed, continue to wear compression stockings. Take them off only when you bathe and sleep. Compression therapy helps your blood circulate and helps prevent other ulcers from forming.
If your ulcer doesn’t heal within a few months, your doctor may advise other treatment, such as:
- Medicine to speed healing or get rid of an infection .
- Skin grafting, which may be needed for deep or hard-to-heal ulcers.
- Vein surgery, which may keep ulcers from coming back.
How Venous Leg Ulcers Are Treated
Most venous leg ulcers heal within 3 to 4 months if they’re treated by a healthcare professional trained in compression therapy for leg ulcers. However, some ulcers may take longer to heal, and a very small number never heal.
Treatment usually involves:
- cleaning and dressing the wound
- using compression, such as bandages or stockings, 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.
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Treating An Infected Ulcer
An ulcer sometimes produces a large amount of discharge and becomes more painful. There may also be redness around the ulcer.
These symptoms and feeling unwell are signs of infection.
If your ulcer becomes infected, it should be cleaned and dressed as usual.
You should also elevate your leg most of the time. You’ll be prescribed a 7-day course of antibiotics.
The aim of antibiotic treatment is to clear the infection. But antibiotics do not heal ulcers and should only be used in short courses to treat infected ulcers.
Ulcers Caused By Injury Or Pressure
- Injury. Most ulcers start off with an injury to the skin. Some are trivial a little scratch or bite for example, which doesn’t properly heal for some reason, such as a circulation problem as above. Others may be larger skin injuries, or injuries which extend more deeply to tissue under the skin.
- Neuropathic ulcers. Some injuries to the skin occur because there is a problem with the feeling in the skin. If you can’t feel your feet, for example, you may not be able to tell that a shoe is too tight, or the bath is too hot. So you end up with a blister or a burn, which can go on to become a skin ulcer, particularly if your circulation is not very good. Ulcers caused in this way are called neuropathic ulcers. Diabetes is the common cause. See the separate leaflet called Diabetes, Foot Care and Foot Ulcers.
- Pressure sores are a common type of skin ulcer. Areas of skin become damaged due to a continuous pressure on them, usually due to a person not being able to move well. See the separate leaflet called Pressure Sores.
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Can Venous Leg Ulcers Be Prevented
There are several ways to help prevent a venous leg ulcer in people at risk, such as:
- wearing compression stockings
- losing weight if you’re overweight
- exercising regularly
- elevating your leg when possible
This is particularly important if you’ve previously had a leg ulcer once a leg has suffered a venous ulcer, you’re at risk of further ulcers developing within months or years.
Read more about preventing venous leg ulcers.
How Are Leg Ulcers Diagnosed
- A physical examination is the most common way to diagnose it.
- A doppler machine can also be used to diagnose leg ulcers based on the blood supply to your legs.
- In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a vascular specialist if he is not able to confirm your condition.
Once you are diagnosed with leg ulcers, you tend to look for different options to treat the condition. And what could be better than being able to do so naturally? Listed below are some of the best home remedies that can help you in treating leg ulcers naturally.
What You Have To Do
How Often You Should Do This
Do this 2-3 times daily.
Why This Works
Aloe vera is a therapeutic herb that is widely used to treat various ailments. It is extremely effective in healing leg ulcers as it not only inhibits the growth of bacteria but also prevents further infection . It contains compounds like anthraquinones and certain hormones that are said to render wound healing properties to it .
What You Have To Do
How Often You Should Do This
Do this at least 2-3 times daily.
Why This Works
What You Have To Do
How Often You Should Do This
Symptoms Of Leg Ulcers
- that they are commonly found on the lower leg and ankle
- a sunken, asymmetrically shaped wound
- the edges of the ulcer are clearly defined from the surrounding skin
- the surrounding skin is intact, but inflamed
- the surrounding skin may be pigmented, hardened or calloused
- yellowish-white exudate
- varicose veins in the leg.