Preventing Leg Ulcers

How to Prevent Leg Ulcers

leg ulcers

A leg ulcer is a breakage of the skin, allowing air and bacteria access to the exposed underlying tissues. While many people will recover quickly from an injury which breaks the skin, an ulcer is usually symptomatic of an underlying problem; it can be slow or difficult to heal and may produce a discharge.

There are a number of factors which can affect the risk of developing leg ulcers. There are two main types of leg ulcers; venous are due to pressure caused by an underlying problem with the veins, arterial are due to weak unhealthy skin caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow after an arterial blockage.

Prevention of Venous Ulcers

In these cases people who are prone to varicose veins are particularly susceptible. There are a number of preventative measures which can significantly reduce the risk of development. These include

  • Avoiding standing for excessive amounts of time or prolonged periods. Also sitting with crossed legs can restrict the blood flow, so it is best to sit with both feet on the floor or elevated with a footstool
  • Exercising- Walking is extremely beneficial to increase the blood and oxygen flow around the body but especially the legs. Trying to flex the feet and ankles when sitting also enables the calf muscles to assist the blood flow in the veins.
  • Diet and Weight- Maintaining a healthy body weight helps to relieve pressure on the veins, together with a healthy balanced diet is extremely beneficial
  • Support pantyhose- There are a variety of hose, stockings and knee length socks which are beneficial for varicose vein sufferers. They are available in unisex forms and help improve circulation by pushing the blood back towards the heart.

Preventing Arterial Ulcers

People, who have suffered from a problem with their arteries, may experience a number of different symptoms. It is especially important for these people to engage in preventative measures to avoid leg ulcers. These include;

  • Cut down or give up smoking altogether. Smoking causes a variety of problems for the body, in these cases it is particularly bad for reducing the blood flow and amount of oxygen circulating through the body especially in the legs.
  • Engage in gentle or moderate exercise where possible. This will promote circulation and increase blood flow.
  • Avoiding scratches or cuts as healing will be reduced by the limited supply of oxygen and nutrients. Ulcers can develop quite quickly from even the smallest of scratches so they should be treated promptly. Ensuring sharp edges of furniture are covered and avoiding pets jumping up onto laps should help to minimize risk.
  • Extra care should be taken with the skin. Washing with warm water and a mild soap, and using an emollient on dry skin will help improve the risk of development. Care should be taken when drying the skin, doing so very gently especially between fingers and toes.

If you are worried you may be susceptible to leg ulcers or are interested in learning more, please contact us. Our St. Louis staff would be happy to assist you with any questions you may have about your own personal circumstances.