Leg ulcers are open wounds on the lower limbs which develop when there is a break in the continuity of the skin. These ulcers may develop due to injury, poor blood circulation, infection or autoimmune disorders. Though these open sores are more common in females, they can affect both the sexes across all age groups. Leg ulcers have a tendency to recur if treated inappropriately.
The symptoms of leg ulcers can differ depending on the root cause of the ulcers. In most cases, ulcers are painful, however, in some instances where ulcers cause little or no pain, they are usually due to nerve damage from mismanaged diabetes or leprosy. Moreover, the absence of pain is one reason why many individuals do not seek the required medical treatment. It is vital to make an appointment with the doctor if a person experiences any of the following symptoms:
Discolouration or staining on the skin
Generalized pain or heaviness in the legs
Hardened skin and pus in and around the affected area
Increasing wound size
Venous Diseases : Most of ulcers develop around the ankles when the veins stop working . Venous diseases are triggered when the valves present inside the are damaged. The function of leg valves is to ensure that the blood flows up towards the heart while circulating the body. However, if the are defective, they are unable to stop blood the flow of blood back into the legs. that can ultimately cause the to become inflamed and thin, which eventually breaks down into ulcers.
Arterial Diseases : Arterial disease ulcers are generally multiple and painful due to oxygen supply from poor circulation in arterial disease. Arterial are known leg ulcers. This occurs when there is a blockage in at least one of the arteries present in the leg which stops the blood . Smoking is a factor in arterial disease of the legs.
Underlying Conditions : Certain leg ulcers happen because of underlying ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, leprosy or some other neurological disease. However, in some cases, multiple conditions may also contribute to the development of leg ulcers.
The three most common types of leg ulcers include:
Venous Stasis Ulcers : These are common in individuals who have a history of varicose veins, leg swelling, or blood clots in either the deep or superficial veins of the legs.
Neuropathic Ulcers(diabetic) : These occur mainly in individuals who have diabetes. However, it can also affect people suffering from impaired sensations in the feet due to neurological disorders.
Arterial (ischemic ulcers) : An individual with cardiac or cerebrovascular diseases is likely to suffer from arterial ischemic ulcers.
Some of the most common treatment options for leg ulcers include:
Compression Bandaging : This is the most vital part of a leg ulcer treatment. It is done to counteract the raised pressure in the leg veins. This treatment method gives the most significant chance for the ulcer to heal.
Skin Graft : This may be advised for a large-sized ulcer, or for an ulcer that does not heal well.
Surgery : This is advised for varicose veins or other vein problems in some cases. This helps in correcting the back pressure of blood pooling in the veins and let an ulcer to heal.
Skin Care : The skin around an ulcer is often scaly or inflamed. The doctor or specialist may advise the patient to use an ointment or cream to reduce inflammation. Wound care and regular dressing play a major factor in the healing of the ulcer.
Dietary Advice : Obesity is a risk factor for developing venous leg ulcers. If a patient is overweight, then losing weight helps in healing the ulcer. During the healing process, the body needs increased amounts of vitamins A and C, proteins, calories, and sometimes even mineral zinc.
After the treatment of this condition is completed, the patient should regularly visit the doctor for the follow-up appointments. During the consultation, the doctor will ask the patient various health-related questions and observe the patient’s health progress by performing a couple of tests.