Leg Ulcers: Causes and Prevention Methods

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
April 12, 2021

If you have open wounds or sores on the leg, you may be diagnosed with leg ulcers. Read below to find out more about leg ulcers.

What Are Leg Ulcers?

Leg ulcers are unhealed sores or open wounds on the legs. Without treatment, ulcers will recur. Many ailments can cause ulcers, as can poor circulation. These wounds are more frequent in women but can occur in men and women of any age. If treated early, leg ulcers can be taken care of with little to no worry.

Diagnosing Leg Ulcers

Combined with testing, your doctor will perform a physical examination to diagnose your leg ulcers and determine their cause. In many cases, your doctor will be able to differentiate between a leg ulcer and a regular sore just by looking at it. They will likely order a variety of tests to determine the right treatment plan, including:

• CT scan

• MRI scan

• Noninvasive vascular studies using ultrasound

• X-rays

Leg Ulcers Causes

The odds of developing leg ulcers increase with age. They are often hereditary, so if your parents had leg ulcers, you are more likely to develop them. Varicose veins, which are swollen and visible veins, are frequently associated with leg ulcers. Often, leg ulcers are a complication of untreated varicose veins. However, the two conditions are not always found together.

Other causes of leg ulcers:

• poor blood circulation

• diabetes

• hypertension (high blood pressure)

• heart disease

• high cholesterol

• kidney disease

• increased pressure in the legs

• smoking

• infections

Leg Ulcer Treatments

Treating leg ulcers is critical to relieve pain, stop infection, and prevent the wound from developing in size. If pus is draining from your ulcer, you probably have an infection. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections and prevent complications. Compression bandages are used to ease swelling, shut the wound, and stop infection. Your health practitioner may also prescribe an ointment to apply to the ulcer.

In extreme cases, your physician may also order orthotics or braces to assist you while also stopping future ulcers. Pentoxifylline may also be prescribed to enhance the circulation in your legs. Your physician can also suggest aspirin to forestall blood clots in the legs. Remember, you should never begin taking any medicine without first consulting your doctor.

Leg Ulcer Prevention

Since poor circulation is the most common cause of leg ulcers, it makes sense to control conditions that can cause poor circulation, such as:

• Hypertension

• Diabetes

• Raynaud’s disease

Staying well with a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce your weight, thereby decreasing your risk of leg ulcers. Decreasing your sodium intake is also important. You can do this by:

• Using fresh foods, not packaged

• Reading nutrition labels and checking for sodium content

Also, smoking increases your risk for ulcers. If you smoke, seek help to quit.

Learn More About Leg Ulcers

At South Valley Vascular, we know how important it is to preserve your health. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation with one of our talented vascular surgeons.