Leg Ulcer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Leg Ulcer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

A man suffering from leg pain

A leg ulcer is a condition where a break in the skin causes an open sore, allowing bacteria and air to get into the underlying tissues. It’s commonly caused by minor injuries or conditions that affect the veins found in the legs. In most cases, damage to the skin will heal on its own within a week or two. When it doesn’t, however, the affected area may get bigger and turn into a chronic leg ulcer.

Symptoms of Leg Ulcer

The common symptoms of a leg ulcer are the following:

  • Swollen or enlarged ankles and leg veins.
  • Chronic pain or aching in the legs, especially when standing for a prolonged period.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the leg.
  • Discolored, flaky, scaly, or irritated skin.
  • The skin around the affected area is scabbing.

Common Causes of Leg Ulcer

Approximately 80% of leg ulcer conditions is caused by a venous disease. This happens when a vein is not working properly. The other 15% is caused by an arterial disease or when the arteries don’t work as expected. The rest is caused by other underlying health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and other rare conditions.

Types of Leg Ulcer

The most common type of leg ulcer is venous leg ulcer, but it’s not the only one. The other types of leg ulcer include arterial, diabetic, traumatic, malignant, and vasculitic leg ulcers.

Treatments for Leg Ulcer

Treatment for a venous leg ulcer usually involves cleaning and dressing the sore area regularly, wearing of compression stockings or bandages, and elevating the legs to help improve the blood flow. Antibiotics may also be prescribed if the ulcers get infected. In some rare cases, a surgery may also be required.

If properly treated, most venous leg ulcer conditions can heal in four months or less. However, healing may take longer in some instances. It’s best to know the severity of your leg ulcer’s condition by consulting a professional.