Venous leg ulcer

A venous leg ulcer is considered one of the most common form of skin ulcer. It is important to note that a skin ulcer forms once a region of skin deteriorates to expose the underlying tissues. This form of skin ulcer usually occurs right above the ankle and affect the elderly and common among women.

The ulcer becomes common as one gets older and many are affected by the time they are in their 80s. A venous leg ulcer is usually painless but some can be painful. If not treated, it can grow and cause issues in the leg. In addition, inflammation of the skin oftentimes develops around a venous leg ulcer.

What are the causes?

The origin is an elevated blood pressure in the veins of the lower leg. This causes the fluid to move out of the veins under the skin. This results to thickening, swelling and damage to the skin. The impaired skin will eventually degenerate to form an ulcer.

The high pressure in the blood within the leg veins is due to the accumulation of blood in the smaller veins close to the skin. The blood has the tendency to build-up since the valves in the bigger veins are impaired by a previous blood clot in the vein or varicose veins. In addition, gravity causes the blood to flow back via the impaired valves and accumulate in the inferior veins.

Venous leg ulcer

The blood has the tendency to build-up since the valves in the bigger veins are impaired by a previous blood clot in the vein or varicose veins.


A venous leg ulcer is dressed in the same way with other wounds. Generally, the dressing is applied every week. The wound is cleansed if the dressing is changed. Nevertheless, an ulcer is not likely to heal with only dressings. Aside from dressings, the following are the commonly used treatment choices for a venous leg ulcer.

Compression bandage

This aims on counteracting the elevated pressure in the leg veins to allow the venous leg ulcer to heal. In most cases, 2-4 layers of bandage is applied over the dressing. When the bandage is applied, the pressure is placed highest at the ankle and gradually drops at the knee and thigh.

The bandages are reapplied every week or so. The bandages are ideally applied after the leg has been elevated for several hours or overnight.

Elevation and activity

While resting, the individual can keep the leg elevated higher than the hip if possible. This is vital if the leg is swollen. The objective is to allow gravity to draw fluid and blood in the right direction. This reduces the leg swelling and pressure of blood in the leg veins.

Allot 3-4 periods throughout the day to lie down with the leg raised for 30 minutes. The individual can lie on a sofa or bed with the foot propped on several pillows.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a venous leg ulcer is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly manage wounds including a venous leg ulcer, register for a first aid and CPR course with Vancouver First Aid.


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