Venous Leg Ulcer
What is Venous Leg Ulcer?
A venous leg ulcer is a type of skin ulcer that develops when an area of skin breaks down to reveal the underlying flesh due to the high pressure of the blood in the leg veins. It is a common type of foot ulcers, they often present in the ankle region with symptoms such as pain, itchiness or a burning sensation, and swelling in the affected leg. Typically, they are irregular, shallow and located over a bony prominence. Odorous fluid and discharge are often also noted with a discoloured or hardened skin around the ulcer.
Venous ulcers are slow and difficult to heal that takes more than four to six weeks to heal. It has a poor prognosis especially when present with a larger size and duration. Many complications can arise with the presence of a venous wound. Cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin), osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and malignant changes can occur. The severity of such a wound increases the risk of morbidity and mortality in a patient. Inevitably, a patient’s quality of life will be severely impacted.
What causes Venous Leg Ulcer?
The presence of such ulcers arises due to insufficient blood flow from the feet back to the heart. As a result, swelling occurs (in the ankles and lower legs) and when there is an indirect or direct trauma to the area, skin break down occurs and become an ulcer. One is more susceptible to developing this if one is of older age, overweight, a smoker, has circulatory problems or a history of previous leg injuries.
What can be done?
At Singapore Diabetic Foot Centre, our acute care team of podiatrists will assess the ulcer and regularly reassess on their suitability of the ongoing therapy. For example, if there is no reduction in the swelling of ankles, compression with a higher pressure might be needed. Conversely, if circulation or skin is compromised, adjustments to lower the amount of pressure or to reconsider compression therapy altogether, will be carried out.