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Venous Skin Ulcer

What is a venous skin ulcer?
A venous skin ulcer, also called venous stasis leg ulcer, is a superficial dermis or shallow wound that develops when the leg veins do not move the blood back toward the heart normally as it should.Venous skin wounds usually develop on either side of the lower leg, above the ankle or below the calf.

What causes venous skin ulcers?
The veins in the lower extremities of the body or the legs have valves that keep blood flowing toward the heart. In a condition called venous insufficiency the valves are not working properly and allows the blood to back up in the vein. The circulation slows down and fluid leaks out of the veins because they are now overfilled. The fluid leaks into surrounding tissues, stretches the skin thus causing skin breakdown and becomes a wound.

Appearance:

  • Color: dark red Surrounding skin: reddened, rashy (venous dermatitis) and or brown staining
  • Depth: usually shallow
  • Wound edges: irregular
  • Drainage: moderate to heavy
  • Edema (swelling): can be no swelling to very much swelling
  • Skin temp: normal-warm to touch
  • Granulation: frequently present
  • Infection: does not get infected too often

Treatment:
A venous skin ulcer is slow to heal due to poor circulation. It may take many months to fully heal. The key to healing a venous ulcer is always wearing the prescribed compression hose. Compression means a covering, often a support stocking, that squeezes evenly around your leg. This support helps keep the veins from overfilling. Frequent leg elevation is also a must to prevent fluid from leaking into the lower extremities. This also helps prevent the achy pain that happens with fluid filled legs.

To reduce healing time and prevent having skin ulcer recurrences:

  • Follow your health professional's instructions and teaching.
  • Change your compression hose at regular intervals so they keep their stretch. They should not be more than 6 months old at the most.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption, because they impair good circulation.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Exercise regularly; walking is a good activity to improve lower leg circulation
  • Lengthy standing or sitting should be avoided, both of which slow the wound healing.

Good compression is the key to preventing venous leg wound.

Learn more about venous skin ulcers.
Learn more about compression stockings.

 

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