Leg ulcer is a term that generally refers to venous leg ulcers although ulcers may also affect arteries. These lesions usually affect lower portion of the legs and feet. Chronic leg ulcers are those which do not heal adequately within 6 weeks. These are quite painful and not very appealing lesions that may itch. The skin and tissues surrounding leg ulcers are swollen.
Venous leg ulcers occur in 80-85% of all cases. They develop as a consequence of venous hypertension which eventually leads to damage to the skin. Apart from venous leg ulcers people may also suffer from arterial leg ulcers, diabetic leg ulcers, traumatic, vasculitis and malignant leg ulcers.
It is estimated that number of the affected individuals rises with age. Certain risk factors contributes to the condition and actually induce formation of these lesions. They include immobility, obesity, deep vein thrombosis, previous injury to the leg and the presence of varicose veins.
More about Leg Ulcers
There needs to be some kind of predisposition or an already existing medical condition in order for leg ulcers to develop. Namely, such patients usually have certain vein problems which occur due to improper functioning of the valves inside the affected vein. The function of these valves is to push the blood towards the heart and prevent its regurgitation and accumulation in veins. If these structures are damaged or weak, the blood may go backwards and cause many different problems such as varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis etc. These two conditions as well as several more associated with abnormal function of the valves are contributors of increased pressure inside leg veins and consequently lead to formation of leg ulcers.
Treatment for Leg Ulcers
Leg ulcers require proper treatment which may take weeks but will eventually allow the open wound to heal completely. Patients are recommended to apply strong, sustained compression with a bandage or a stocking. The wound must be thoroughly cleaned and adequately dressed. The underlying cause of leg ulcers also requires specific treatment. This way the ulcer will be given a chance to heal completely. Treatment should be performed by a well-experienced professional who is actually a leg ulcer management specialist.
The prognosis of small ulcers is quite good. It is estimated that 70% of small ulcers heal within the period of 12 weeks. On the other hand, large ulcers require more time to heal. Once the ulcer has healed, patients are due to keep the underlying illness under control in order to prevent recurrence of ulcer formation.