Venous ulcers are stubbornly slow to heal, but you can speed up the process by seeking early treatment.
Varicose veins may be one of the most visible signs of venous insufficiency, but it’s not the only one. Another noticeable, painful symptom of vein disease is the development of venous ulcers.
A venous ulcer typically develops on the inside of the lower leg above the ankle. If you know the early signs of a venous ulcer, you can seek the advice of a vascular specialist to prevent the sore from worsening. Treatment is the fastest and only way to heal a venous ulcer, so let’s dive in on what you need to know about it and how to treat it.
The causes and symptoms of venous ulcers
Like varicose veins, venous ulcers form when blood pools in the leg veins due to weakened valves. The tiny valves open and shut to push blood upward toward the heart, but age, obesity, genetics, a lack of exercise, and other factors can cause these valves to lose strength. Once weakened, the valves can no longer effectively move blood upward. As a result, blood backflows and pools inside the vein.
The buildup of blood increases blood pressure in the veins, which in turn causes swelling. The swelling prevents healing nutrients and oxygen from reaching the damaged skin and tissues. As the swelling and blood pressure increase, sores may appear on the legs and ankles.
Before a venous ulcer fully forms, the skin on the leg or ankle may harden and turn into a deep red, purple, or brown color. Cramping and itching are also early indications of a venous ulcer.
If these early symptoms persist, consult a vein specialist. A full-formed ulcer typically displays the following symptoms:
A shallow sore with a red base covered by yellow tissue.
An uneven border around the ulcer.
Shiny, tight, or warm skin surrounding the ulcer.
Severe leg pain.
A foul odor and pus coming from the sore, which usually means an infection.
Treating venous ulcers
Swift medical intervention can heal a venous ulcer. Under the direction of a vascular surgeon, you can treat the ulcer at home by:
Cleaning and wrapping the wound. Your doctor will tell you how often you need to change the dressing. They will also instruct you on properly cleaning the ulcer and placing the bandage properly. If the wound becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Keeping the skin around the bandage dry. It would be best if you kept the area, including the dressing, thoroughly dry, but you can moisturize the skin around the ulcer. If the skin and tissue around the sore become wet, the sore may worsen.
Wearing compression stockings or bandages. Your doctor may recommend you wear compression stockings or apply a compression bandage around the wound. By gently applying pressure to the veins, the stockings or bandages can promote blood flow, preventing blood from pooling and the vein from swelling. Reduced swelling also gives the ulcer a chance to heal.
Elevating your legs. Raising your legs above your heart reduces blood pressure, draining blood away from your legs and to your heart.
Making lifestyle changes. Lose weight for healthier blood flow! Extra pounds put more pressure on your veins, leading to blood pooling. Eat a healthy diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, and stop smoking. Ditching cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your veins. Losing weight and exercising can also prevent venous ulcers and other vein problems.
Treating your varicose veins. Varicose veins put you at a higher risk of developing venous ulcers. Before an ulcer forms, talk to a vein specialist about available treatment options for varicose veins. Today’s methods are minimally invasive and performed during an outpatient visit. By eliminating varicose veins, you’re treating the root cause of venous ulcers. Remember, early intervention is the fastest way to heal a venous ulcer.
Take care of your veins!
At Center for Vein Restoration (CVR), our sole focus is treating varicose veins and other vascular disorders, including venous ulcers. When you first notice the first signs of varicose veins or other symptoms of venous insufficiency, consult a CVR physician to learn more about your treatment options.
Contact one of our offices today to schedule a consultation, or call 800-FIX-LEGS (800-349-5347) to speak to a Patient Services Representative. You may also schedule online at your convenience.