Leg Ulcers

Understanding Leg Ulcers: Causes and Treatments

A leg ulcer is an open wound that develops on the leg or foot and can take a long time to heal. These ulcers can be painful and unsightly and cause significant discomfort for those suffering from them. Leg ulcers have many causes, and treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Causes of Leg Ulcers

The most common causes of leg ulcers are chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and arterial insufficiency. CVI occurs when the veins in the legs are damaged or weakened, causing blood to pool in the legs. This can lead to swelling, skin discoloration, and ulcers. Arterial insufficiency, on the other hand, occurs when the arteries in the legs are narrowed or blocked, reducing blood flow to the legs and feet. This can cause pain, skin changes, and ulcers.

Other causes of leg ulcers include:

For more information, please read our article on the seven causes of leg ulcers.

What Does A Leg Ulcer Look Like?

Leg UlcerVenous insufficiency ulcers and venous stasis ulcers have an appearance that is easy to recognize:

  • Typically shallow
  • Appear red at the bottom
  • Sometimes painful and tender to the touch
  • May ooze or drain fluid; the amount depends on the size and severity of the ulcer
  • Start small but can become quite large
  • Multiple ulcers can occur at the same time

Symptoms of Leg Ulcers

The symptoms of leg ulcers can vary depending on the underlying cause, but they typically include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the affected area
  • Redness or discoloration around the ulcer
  • Swelling in the legs or feet
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Drainage or pus from the ulcer
  • A foul-smelling odor

Treatment for Leg Ulcers

Treatment for leg ulcers depends on the underlying cause. Treatment aims to promote healing, prevent infection, and reduce pain and discomfort. Here are some common treatments for leg ulcers:

Compression Therapy

Compression therapy is a standard treatment for ulcers caused by CVI. This involves wearing compression stockings or bandages, which help improve blood flow in the legs and reduce swelling.

Wound Care

Wound care is an important part of treating ulcers. This involves cleaning the wound and applying dressings to help promote healing and prevent infection. Your doctor may also prescribe topical medications or antibiotics to help treat the area.


In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat leg ulcers. This may involve removing damaged tissue or repairing damaged veins or arteries in the legs.

Lifestyle Changes

Making lifestyle changes can also help treat and prevent leg wounds. This may include losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly to improve blood flow in the legs.

Prevention of Leg Ulcers

Preventing leg ulcers involves managing any underlying conditions that may increase your risk of developing them. This may include managing diabetes, controlling your blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also essential to avoid smoking, exercise regularly, and wear comfortable shoes that fit well.

If you have a history of leg ulcers, it’s important to see a vascular specialist like Dr. Ayar at Coastal Vascular Center in Pearland. Dr. Ayar can help diagnose and treat the underlying causes of your leg ulcers and develop a personalized treatment plan to help promote healing and prevent future ulcers. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage your leg ulcers and improve your overall quality of life.

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