Leg Ulcers In Indian Patients: Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
- Leg Ulcers occur when there is a tear in the skin of the leg. The tear allows bacteria and air to creep in and cause sores. These sores on the leg may be recurring if left untreated.
- Venous ulcers and arterial ulcers are two of common types of ulcers that are diagnosed. These usually occur near the legs and ankles. Though these two types of ulcers are similar, they require different types of treatment to ensure a speedy recovery and proper healing.
- Ulcers on the legs are usually hereditary and have an equal probability of occurring in men and women.
- In most cases, patients complain of leg ulcer pain. But in a few cases, in which the patient feels no pain, the condition goes undiagnosed and may cause problems in the future.
- Treating ulcers on the legs is not an easy task. In several cases, pus forms on the sores on legs. In these cases, the pus needs to be discharged and the patient is put on a course of antibiotics to retaliate the infection caused. If the leg ulcer pain is unbearable, the general physician may suggest a few home remedies or a pain killer.
Chapter 1: What is a leg ulcer?
An ulcer is a disruption in the skin or in the membrane of the organ. Ulcers may occur in any part of the body. They usually occur in the mouth, stomach and legs. Ulcers in the legs are wounds that have been left opened and that haven’t healed with time. In most cases, these wounds tend to get bigger with time. These leg wounds when left unattended develop sores on legs that may lead to ulcers.
When the skin tears, it allows bacteria and air to reach under the exposed areas, causing pus formation and sores. In most instances, these hurts heal on their own, without any difficulty in a week or two. However, when a patient has a few underlying issues, the body is not able to heal itself, resulting in the infected area increasing in size. To aid the body in fighting diseases, the patient must lead a healthy lifestyle, which means, he/she needs to follow a good diet plan. If treated early the condition of these skin ulcers on legs can improve without causing complications in the future. Sometimes, patients head to a dermatologist to get these sores on legs checked out.
Chapter 2: Types of ulcers
An ulcer may form on any part of the body. The most common places on the body one may find an ulcer is the stomach and the digestive tract. This doesn't mean that ulcers aren’t formed on other parts of the body. Ulcers on the leg are not very common but can be treated and diagnosed if the right expert is contacted. One of the most common risk factors for such ulcers is diabetes. We recommend you get yourself tested at the earliest so that our medical experts can guide you accordingly. The three most common types of leg ulcers are venous ulcers, arterial ulcers and martorell ulcers.
Venous ulcers or venous stasis ulcers are the most common types of ulcers found on the legs of Indians. These types of ulcers arise in almost 90% of all cases. Venous leg ulcers usually affect one or both legs and are often found on the part of the leg below the knees. If you have a shin ulcer, it is highly likely that it is of this type. These types of ulcers usually take very long to heal due to the limb having a weak blood circulation. Clean eating and maintaining an optimal weight may assist the body in fighting such conditions.
Venous leg ulcers are skin ulcers on legs that appear when the veins of the legs aren't able to send enough blood back to the heart. This condition usually arises due to another underlying condition such as a clot in the vein. A clot in the vein does not allow the blood to move from the foot to the heart, causing an opposite flow of blood. Since there is lesser blood leaving the foot, there is an increased pressure at the end of the leg. This increase in pressure may cause the skin of the legs to weaken, making it tougher for the body to heal a cut or scrape.
The main difference between arterial leg ulcers and venous stasis ulcers is that the former develops when there is damage caused to the arteries of the foot due to inadequate blood flow to the tissue while the latter develops when the vein of the foot is damaged when there is a deficit of blood pumped to the heart from the foot.
When arteries are clogged, the requisite amount of nutrients and oxygen isn’t supplied to the tissues. When such a blockage occurs in the foot, open wounds are formed in the form of arterial leg ulcers. To make sure that you are in the best condition, carrying out full body checks is a good practice. Usually, a block in the artery is removed with an angioplasty. After an angioplasty, the patient must follow a strict diet with restrictions
Martorell ulcers develop on the lower leg. The reason for these ulcers is poorly controlled high blood pressure and are also called Martorell’s hypertensive ulcers. Such ulcers can be very painful at times and may make life difficult for patients. Studies have even indicated that this type of ulcer may even occur in people who suffer from diabetes mellitus.
These types of ulcers commonly occur on the back of the lower part of the leg just above the ankles. These ulcers usually appear as painful red blisters or patches that later turn blue. Usually, this type of ulcer will need to be detected clinically. When a patient with longstanding high blood pressure reports of painful ulcers on the lower part of the legs. Refer to more of our medical guides for information on nutrition and diet remedies for similar conditions.
Chapter 3: Leg Ulcers: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis
Majority of the cases of ulcers found on the legs are caused when a wound or cut on the leg does not heal itself quickly enough. The most common cause of such ulcers is poor blood circulation. Such conditions occur in someone as he/she gets older or is passed down from generations as a hereditary condition. If you have sores on your legs that are painful, a recommended medical test would help diagnosing the condition. Sometimes you may find a burning sensation in the foot. That is not typically a sign of an ulcer but does require medical attention
In addition to poor blood circulation, other common risk factors for skin ulcers on the legs are:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High cholesterol
When ulcers occur on the legs, they are usually accompanied with pain. Sometimes, ulcers aren’t associated with pain. This is due to nerve damage caused in such patients. Due to not feeling pain, many of these cases go misdiagnosed, resulting in a longer time to seek medical attention and treatment. Refer to more of our medical guides for information on nutrition and diet remedies for similar conditions.
The most common symptoms of ulcers in the legs are:
- Swelling of the leg
- Leg pain or heaviness
- Size of the wound increasing
- Pus formation in the affected area
- Open sores
- Vein enlargement
A general physician will need the help of medical tests and examinations to diagnose ulcers on the legs. The doctor can diagnose such a condition with the help of any of the following tests:
- CT Scan
- Ultrasound for noninvasive vascular studies
In any case, it is also advisable to perform a health check-up at least once a year to understand your health status better.
Chapter 4: Leg ulcer treatments
When one is diagnosed with ulcers on the leg, treatment of the same plays a vital role in relieving pain, preventing infection and stopping the growth of the ulcer’s size. If a pus is formed around the ulcer, then the patient may require antibiotics and cleaning of the pus discharge to avoid further complications. Detoxifying your body with a special diet may aid in a quicker recovery process.
Leg ulcer treatment largely includes two methods:
- Controlling the pressure in your legs
- Treating the ulcer
To carry out the complete leg sores treatment, one must remember to compress, bandage and elevate the limb.
Elevation of the limb: The aim of such a technique is to make sure that the pressure in the leg is low. To maintain a low pressure, one must elevate the foot above the heart. Such an elevation will make sure that the pressure in the foot drops to a normal level by pumping blood upwards to the heart.
Compression bandaging: Compression bandaging is carried out to keep the level of pressure around the ankles as low as possible. This method can be implemented whenever the patient is standing up.
If a pus forms around the sores, it is necessary for the doctor to first clean the pus and discharge the wound off it. Once the pus is cleaned out, consistent cleaning and maintenance of the wound is important during leg sores treatment and will help in keeping another pus formation at bay. Following a diet that detoxifies the body may aid in battling pus reformation.
In very few cases, if the leg ulcer treatment fails, then it is recommended to undergo a skin graft or an operation on the veins. Refer to more of our medical guides for information on nutrition and diet remedies for similar conditions.
Leg ulcers treatment at home
Medical treatment alone won’t get rid of the ulcers on the foot. In addition to medical care, a general physician may recommend a few home remedies to aid in getting rid of the ulcer. A few methods for leg ulcers treatment at home are listed below:
- To prevent infection to the wound, consistent cleaning with antiseptic and water is required. One must also change the dressing to make sure the infected area is kept dry
- Usage of good walking shoes that amplify blood circulation
- Exercising on a regular basis as per doctor’s orders
- Following a healthy diet
- Keeping legs elevated while resting
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes leg ulcers?
Ulcers on the legs are caused when the skin tears, exposing the underlying tissues. If left untreated, these tissues get infected and sores are formed on the legs. These ulcers are very painful and may cause problems in carrying out daily activities. Maintaining the right BMI score may aid the body in fighting such conditions. If you are overweight, follow the right diet to lose weight.
What do leg ulcers look like?
Ulcers that are formed on the legs may vary in colour and size. Usually these types of ulcers are coloured sores on the leg. They may appear red, black or yellow. If not treated effectively, with time, these sores on the legs grow in size and deeper into the skin. Refer to more of our medical guides for information on nutrition and diet remedies for similar conditions.
How to stop leg ulcers from recurring?
Once the ulcer is healed, it may reappear later. This is due to the fact that only the skin has been repaired while the vein or artery under the skin hasn’t been cured of the problem. To prevent these sores from recurring, make sure to keep your legs elevated whenever possible while resting. The skin must be moisturized so that there is no breakage due to dryness. Consistent exercise and a weight loss diet must be followed.
Who is at risk at developing leg ulcers?
Such a condition occurs when there is low levels of blood circulation near the foot of the person. The condition is usually hereditary and occurs when one gets older. However, a person with high blood pressure or damage to the veins in the foot is highly likely to suffer from this condition.
Are there any ways for leg ulcers treatment at home?
The condition requires diagnosis from a medical expert. Once diagnosed with the condition, a general physician may recommend regular exercise, elevation of legs while resting and comfortable walking shoes that promote blood circulation in the feet.