It’s tough to have leg ulcers. These are open wounds on a leg that take over two weeks to heal despite treatment. And if they are untreated, they can ooze fluid and grow larger. They can impact your mobility in day-to-day activities and overall quality of life. So it’s crucial to take certain steps to heal your leg wounds effectively. These may include proper wound care, compression therapy, medications, surgery, and other necessary treatment methods.
In this article, we’ll cover the causes of leg wounds, like venous leg ulcers or diabetic ulcers, how to differentiate these types of wounds, and how to effectively heal these leg wounds.
What causes venous leg ulcers?
Venous leg ulcers are caused by high pressure in lower leg veins. That’s why this type of wound usually occurs between the ankle and knee. Like any other vein, the veins in your lower leg have one-way valves that promote blood flow to your heart. But when these valves become weak, scarred, or blocked, blood can flow back and pool in your legs. That leads to high pressure in your lower leg veins, which prevents nutrients and oxygen from reaching and nourishing your tissues. Over time, the lack of nutrients will cause the cells to die and damage the tissues on the lower leg; eventually, an open wound will form on it.
What causes diabetic ulcers?
High blood sugar levels can cause fat deposits to form inside your blood vessels. Over time, the fat deposits will cause the vessels to narrow, resulting in reduced blood flow and nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. That explains why patients with diabetic ulcers also experience pins-and-needles pain or loss of sensation in their feet and legs. With nerve problems, diabetic patients may not feel or know they have a leg ulcer. Their diabetes also slows the body’s natural wound-healing process. In turn, the wound becomes harder to treat.
Venous ulcers vs. diabetic ulcers: What’s the difference?
Venous ulcers are often associated with edema or swelling and scaly alligator-like skin. The wounds usually occur between the ankle and knee. Chronic wounds may have irregular, shallow borders and liquid discharge. If their wounds are unwrapped, patients with venous leg ulcers note their pants or socks get easily wet due to the discharge.
On the other hand, diabetic ulcers are characterized by their usually raised and round borders. They are often located (or usually started) on the bottom of the feet. They appear red in the earlier stages—similar to blisters and sores—and gangrene in later stages. As mentioned, diabetic ulcers may also come with peripheral neuropathy due to nerve damage.
Since venous ulcers and diabetic ulcers have some key differences, they may each require a different set of treatments. Read more to know how to heal your leg wounds effectively.
How to treat venous leg ulcers
The key to treating venous leg ulcers is proper wound care. Your health care provider will instruct you how to care for your wound properly, but the basic instructions may include:
- Make sure to keep the wound clean and bandaged 24/7 to prevent infection.
- Follow the doctor’s instructions on how often you need to change the dressing.
- It’s important to keep the dressing and the skin around it dry. If the surrounding tissues are constantly too wet, they are likely to cause the wound to get bigger. So it’s recommended to use super absorbent dressings for your wound, like the Advancis Eclypse dressing.
- Always cleanse the wound before applying a new dressing. Always closely follow your doctors recommendations to ensure proper healing.
- Protect the skin around the wound by keeping it clean & moisturized.
Relieving the high pressure in your leg veins will help treat your venous ulcers, from the inside out. Here are some tips:
- Your doctor may instruct you to wear or use compression stockings or the circaid juxtalite compression leg wrap on a daily basis. These will help prevent blood from pooling in your leg veins, which reduces your leg swelling (edema) & pain to boost your wound healing.
- Make it a habit to put your feet above your heart as often as possible. For instance, always lie down with your feet propped up on two to three pillows.
- Take prescribed medicines to help reduce pressure in your leg veins.
- Walk or do light exercises daily. Being active helps improve your blood flow.
If your venous ulcers don’t heal well despite proper wound care and other treatment methods, your doctor may recommend certain procedures or surgery to address them.
How to treat diabetic ulcers
Seek medical care once you notice a diabetic ulcer on the bottom of your foot or any part of your leg. Early treatment will help prevent infection and amputation. Your doctor will instruct you on how to tend to your wound properly, but the basic instructions would include:
- Keep your blood sugar levels under tight control to promote faster healing.
- Always keep your wound clean and covered or bandaged. Ulcers heal faster when they are kept covered and moist. You can use a 100% medical grade manuka honey as a natural wound healer. Activon Manuka Honey by Advancis Medical can be used on any type of wound.
- Cleanse the wound each day and use a wound dressing to protect it.
- You may be asked to wear special footgear or use a wheelchair, crutches, or any mobility support device to take the pressure and irritation off the ulcer area.
- You may have to apply topical medications. Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully.
Most non-infected diabetic ulcers are treated without surgery. But when this fails, surgical procedures may be necessary to address the problem.
Give it time.
Healing time on leg wounds like venous ulcers and diabetic ulcers depends on various factors. These include wound size, location, pressure on the affected area, blood circulation, blood glucose levels, and how wound care is carried out. Give it time. As long as you follow your doctor’s orders, healing of your leg wounds may occur within weeks or several months. The important thing is you’re taking the necessary steps to treat your wound and get better.