A Guide to Lower Extremity Ulcer Prevention and Treatment

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
April 15, 2024

Ulcers are painful sores that develop inside or outside the body. Those suffering from a lower extremity ulcer can experience extreme pain and discomfort. Ulcers can also be scary, and frustrating to deal with. 

From symptoms to treatment, here is everything you need to know about ulcer prevention and treatment options. 

Important Ulcer Symptoms and Causes

Ulcers are usually venous, meaning they result from veins not working properly. This can occur from many different health and lifestyle circumstances. Lower extremity ulcers, in particular, can be quite painful as they have a plethora of harmful symptoms.

Here are some ulcer symptoms and causes to keep in mind.

Ulcer Causes

Usually, leg ulcers occur from severe circulation issues. If blood is unable to properly flow, veins can become damaged which results in ulcers. Those with high-blood pressure are also at higher risk for lower extremity ulcers.

Excessive amounts of hypertension can also severely damage skin capillaries, which are delicate blood vessels that exist throughout the body. If blood flow is cut off from the capillaries, the skin may die. If the skin dies, ulcers will begin to form. 

Ulcer Symptoms

The most common lower extremity ulcer symptom is discoloration around the affected area. Along with pain, this discoloration will be a clear sign of leg ulcers.

This is because, as the open wound develops and sores form, the skin begins to harden and darken. Oftentimes, the ulcer will look blue or purple. 

Another common symptom of lower extremity ulcers is moderate to severe pain. In many situations, walking can become difficult. This can further worsen circulation issues, which can increase the possibility of developing more ulcers.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the affected area. 
  • dry and itchy skin, resulting in varicose eczema.
  • Yellowish pus, especially if the ulcer is infected. 
  • The surrounding area becoming noticeably warmer than the rest of your body.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention and speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Helpful Treatment Options for Ulcers

The good news is that, with proper medical assistance, lower extremity ulcers can be effectively treated.

First, the wound must be cleaned. Dead tissue around the affected area can slow down the healing process. If the wound is left uncleaned, infections may also occur. This can lead to a more complicated medical issue.

Once the sore is cleaned, a dressing or bandage will be applied to the wound. Typically, the dressing should be changed a few times per week.

What Does Treatment Look Like?

After the ulcer is cleaned and wrapped, your underlying causes must be addressed. Usually, your doctor may administer a recovery plan that will take 3-6 months.

During the recovery period, you may need to wear a compression bandage. This will help regulate blood flow and circulation. In addition to preventing more ulcers from developing, it will also help mitigate pain.

If your pain and discomfort is still persistent, you may be prescribed medication or antibiotics. 

If varicose eczema is present, you may be referred to a dermatologist. There will be a separate healing treatment for the skin condition.


It is important to note that there are ways to prevent lower extremity ulcers from occurring.

One way is maintaining a health weight, which will decrease vein pressure. Elevating your legs when resting can also improve circulation. Finally, quitting smoking can significantly lower the risk of leg ulcers. 

What South Valley Vascular Can Do For You

At South Valley Vascular, we understand that medical issues can be worrisome. That’s why our goal is to always do our best to provide proper and effective treatment. With four locations in California, you can find the center that works best for you. Visit us or schedule an appointment online today to start your treatment.