Treating A Leg Ulcer
A venous stasis ulcer is an open sore, usually on the lower leg above the ankle bone, that won’t heal. The reason it won’t heal is because there isn’t enough blood flowing to that area of your leg.
If you have a leg ulcer, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Left untreated, this area of dying tissue can spread and if bad enough, result in amputation. Medicare, Medicaid, and almost all insurance will cover the treatment of a leg ulcer.
Basic treatment starts with cleaning and disinfecting the wound. If you have an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. Once cleaned, the ulcer is bandaged and then your leg is either wrapped with compression bandages or a compression stocking to increase the flow of blood so you can heal.
Once you leave the doctors office or hospital, continued care at home is critical or you’ll be back in the hospital with a more serious problem. Keep the wound clean. Wash your leg and foot daily with a mild soap (Dreft or Ivory Snow) and warm water. After you’ve washed and thoroughly dried your leg, apply a clean bandage to the ulcer. Moisturizing the other parts of your leg and foot with a lanolin-based lotion (Lubriderm, Eucerin) will help keep your skin healthy. Now rewrap or put on the compression stocking as instructed.
Many compression stocking manufacturers market an Ulcer Kit, which is made up of two stockings; an ulcer liner and an outer compression stocking. The combined compression is about 40mmHg, the recommended level for treating a leg ulcer.
This two sock system has several benefits. Ulcer liners are less expensive than the outer compression stocking, so you can buy 3 or 4 which makes cleaning them daily much easier. The liner protects the compression stocking from bodily fluids and holds bandages in place when donning the stocking. Finally, ulcer liners provide mild compression and can be worn at night while you sleep, which improves blood flow and healing. Although a little more expensive, ulcer liners with silver in the fabric help prevent further infection. Silver is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal, so it protects your leg from bacteria and infection.
If you can’t afford an Ulcer Kit, pairing an ulcer liner with a 30-40mmHg open toe compression stocking is an alternative. Whichever treatment your doctor recommends, keeping your leg clean and using compression as prescribed is critical to healing your ulcer.