Venous ulcers are open sores that typically form on the lower leg, ankle, or foot. They occur when the blood in your legs doesn’t circulate properly. Poor blood circulation in your legs can cause a backup of blood in your veins and increased pressure on local vessels and tissues.
Blood pooling and increased venous pressure — commonly known as stasis — eventually show up on your skin. When this happens, an open sore forms. Venous ulcers are typically a product of weakened or blocked leg veins.
If you have a venous ulcer, getting treatment as soon as possible is crucial. As seasoned diabetic limb salvage experts, Dr. Hatim Burhani, Dr. Siraj Panchbhaiya, and our team at Eastside Podiatry PLLC in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, have a wealth of expertise in treating stasis, venous ulcers, and any complications that may arise from them. Here’s what you should know.
Signs of venous ulcers
The earliest sign of an impending venous ulcer is thin, itchy skin. Eventually, this gives way to changes in the skin, known as stasis dermatitis, that make the affected area on your leg or foot appear dark red, brown, or purple. Mild swelling, heaviness, and hardened skin may also occur at this stage.
The next stage of a venous ulcer is sore formation, which may be accompanied by persistent leg pain. You might also notice pus and a foul odor if the sore is infected.
Diabetics, older adults, obese people, pregnant women, and those with leg injuries are at a higher risk of developing venous ulcers.
How are venous ulcers treated?
It’s difficult for a venous ulcer to heal on its own simply because the condition which leads to its appearance — poor circulation — also undermines the healing process.
As such, a venous ulcer always requires expert care and management to heal correctly and in a timely fashion. If a venous ulcer goes untreated for too long, it can set the stage for severe complications, including tissue death and eventual limb amputation.
While treatment for venous ulcers is varied, it may include compression bandages to help encourage proper circulation and healing. It may also include taking a course of antibiotics if the wound is infected.
Venous ulcer treatment can be somewhat uncomfortable, especially when we apply compression bandages. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help, and as your ulcer heals, your pain should subside.
In severe venous ulcer cases, our team may need to perform a limb-saving procedure called debridement to remove dead tissues from the ulcer and help foster healing. A skin graft may also be done to replace dead skin with healthy skin.
How to take care of venous ulcers at home
Taking care of a venous ulcer at home is just as crucial as getting medical treatment for it. Here are the most effective ways to care for venous ulcers:
- Wear compression socks to encourage blood circulation
- Clean and dress the open sores as directed by our team
- Keep the sore and the skin around it dry at all times
- Stay active to promote optimal blood circulation
- Elevate your legs when sitting to avoid blood pooling
Looking to get effective treatment for your venous ulcer? Here at Eastside Podiatry PLLC, we provide specialized care for people with venous ulcers and stasis and any complications that may result from them.