A venous skin ulcer, or stasis leg ulcer, is a shallow wound that develops when the one-way valves in leg veins are damaged and do not return blood to the heart as they normally would (venous insufficiency). Blood backs up and pools in the vein, then leaks into surrounding tissue breaking it down and leading to an ulcer. Ulcers usually develop on the side of the lower leg, above the ankle and below the calf, they are slow to heal and often come back if you don't take steps to prevent them.
The first sign of a venous skin ulcer is skin that turns dark red or purple, it may also become thick, dry, and itchy. Your legs may become swollen and achy. The following are risk factors for venous insufficiency and venous skin ulcers:
• Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs)
• Pregnancy, which may make a vein problem worse
• A family history of varicose veins
• Smoking or excessive alcohol use
• Lack of physical activity
• Poor nutrition, especially not getting enough protein
• Work that requires many hours of standing
Better blood circulation helps prevent and treat the ulcers. Follow these tips to improve your blood circulation:
• Use compression stockings
• Walk daily
• Lie down or recline with your legs above the level of your heart as often as possible
After your ulcer has healed, continue to wear compression stockings. Compression therapy prevents swelling of your legs and stops blood from pooling; it aids blood circulation in your legs helping to prevent other ulcers from forming.
Your doctor can take measurements of different parts of your leg to find the right stockings for you. A medical supply store may have off-the-shelf stockings that fit your legs, but you may need custom-made stockings. Stockings come in knee-high, thigh-high, waist-high lengths in mild, moderate, firm and extra firm compressions. Put them on in the morning when you first get out of bed and only take them off when you bathe and sleep. Do not wear them if they have stretched out as they will no longer provide compression. Replace your stockings every three to four months.
From WedMD.com and FirstToServe.com