What is a venous leg ulcer?
A venous leg ulcer is a wound occurring on the lower leg, which tends not to heal. Ulcers can vary in colour, size and depth. They may be painful and can sometimes smell unpleasant. It can take years to heal.
About your venous leg ulcer
They are the most common type of leg ulcer. They are caused as a result of damaged veins.
Veins take blood from the lower leg and feet back up to the heart. Damage to these veins may cause the legs to swell and be tender to touch. The skin may become dry and itchy. There may also be discolouration of the skin for example; mottled brown or black. The legs may also be painful when sitting down.
Treatment of venous leg ulcers
The doctor or nurse will select the best treatment for you, for the type of ulcer you have, compression dressings are usually best.
There are several ways of achieving this:
- A single elastic bandage.
- Several layers of bandage (three or four layer compression system).
- A shaped tubular bandage.
- Compression hosiery (once the ulcer has healed).
Give up smoking
Walk or exercise
Eat a healthy, balanced diet containing protein (meat). Protein aids wound healing
Rest with your legs up as much as possible
Wear your support stockings during the day if your doctor has advised this. Remove them when you get in bed at night
Wash your legs, including the ulcer, regularly
Remove your dressings or bandages. If you have a problem contact the dept or your Practice or District Nurse
Stand or sit in one position for a long time. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed
Scratch your legs as this can cause an infection
Soak in the bath for long periods
Put antiseptics or salt in the bathwater
Sleep in a chair overnight (always go to bed if you can)
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.