The physicians at Capitol Vein and Laser Centers are passionate about their results of healing wounds and ulcerations. There are several types of wounds such as pressure ulcers, diabetic wounds, non-healing trauma wounds, however did you know that a common circulation condition called Chronic Venous Insufficiency accounts for up to 80% of all lower extremity ulcerations?
A chronic or re-occurring leg ulcer is often painful and debilitating, often leading to several months of wound care. Venous ulcers typically occur around the ankles or lower leg and may be preceded by darkening or thickening of the skin in that area.
What is an Ulcerations/Ulcer?
An ulcer is a wound on the surface of your skin or another organ that resembles an open sore. “Ulceration” is the process of that wound forming. Many people are familiar with the peptic ulcers, or the type of ulcers that form in the stomach, intestine, or esophagus, but venous (leg) and arterial (ankle, feet, toes, and heels) ulcers are also extremely common in the general population.
In fact, roughly one out of every 100 Americans has venous ulcers. Many symptoms like varicose veins and leg swelling can be precursors to the development of a full-blown ulcer.
What Does an Ulcer Feel Like
A leg or foot ulcer is a very large open wound that is often surrounded by discolored, swollen skin. Because the skin around the ulcer is exposed, it is common to feel pain and itching in the affected area. The skin is typically very sore and tender from the wound, and many patients experience a foul-smelling discharge from the ulcer itself.
What Are Common Symptoms of an Ulcer?
Ulcers are extremely easy to spot since they create a visible and painful opening on your skin.
Here is a list of common symptoms:
- Aching or soreness
- Discoloration or hardening of the skin
- Itchy, flaky, or scaly skin
- Unpleasant or foul-smelling discharge
- Enlarged veins in your legs
- Heavy feeling in the legs
An open wound creates a higher risk of infection, especially when not carefully tended to. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, your ulcer could be infected and should be immediately seen by a physician:
- Increase in pain
- Green discharge
- Excessive redness and swelling
What Causes Ulcers?
There are three main causes of leg ulcers: venous disease, arterial disease, or other diseases like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Venous disease accounts for about 80 percent of all leg ulcers, making it by far the most common cause of this condition. When you are diagnosed with venous disease, it means that your veins are unable to keep the blood flowing from the heart normally. Before leg blisters develop, it is common for patients to experience varicose veins, leg swelling, or skin discoloration.
The second leading cause of leg ulcers is arterial disease, sometimes referred to as peripheral vascular disease, which is caused by narrowed arteries (blood vessels) preventing healthy blood flow between the heart and limbs. This constriction can be caused by a variety of factors such as weight, diet, and smoking.
Other diseases, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, can also contribute to the development of leg ulcers. In fact, 5 percent of all leg ulcer diagnoses are caused by these and other rare diseases.
The best way to find out the cause of your ulcers or leg blisters is to visit a board-certified surgeon with extensive experience such as Dr. McNeill and Dr. Rosenberg.