Foot & Leg Ulcers

Ulcers are breaks in the layers of the skin that fail to heal. They may be accompanied by inflammation. Sometimes they don’t heal and become chronic. Chronic foot and leg ulcers mainly affect the elderly. People with diabetes are at special risk of developing foot ulcers, and foot care is an important part of diabetes management.

What Causes Ulceration?

The most common cause of chronic leg ulcers is poor blood circulation in the legs. These are known as arterial and venous leg ulcers.

Arterial Leg Ulcers

Approximately 10 percent of all leg ulcers are arterial ulcers. Feet and legs often feel cold and may have a whitish or bluish, shiny appearance. Arterial leg ulcers can be painful.

What causes arterial leg ulcers?

Arterial leg ulcers are caused by poor blood circulation as a result of narrowed arteries. They are also caused by damage to the small blood vessels from long-standing diabetes.

Diabetes also increases the likelihood of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). This means people with diabetes have a much increased risk of developing arterial ulcers.

Venous Leg Ulcers

Approximately 70 percent of all leg ulcers are venous ulcers. A leg with venous problems has a very characteristic appearance:

  • the leg is swollen.
  • the skin surrounding a the ulcer is dry, itchy and sometimes brownish in color.
  • eczema may appear
  • the ulcer often has a weeping appearance and usually painless unless infected.
  • venous ulcers are often located just above the ankle, typically on the inside of the leg.

What causes venous leg ulcers?

Most of the venous leg ulcers occur because the valves in the veins in your legs are not functioning properly.

The venous system is made up of superficial and deep veins:

  • superficial veins are located between the skin and the muscles
  • deep veins are located between the muscles.
The valves in the veins normally ensure that blood flows from the superficial veins to the deep system.
Failure of these valves prevents proper blood flow to from the superficial system to the deep system. This can result in formation of varicose veins and in more serious cases leg ulcers.

Meet Our Doctors

Dr. Kevin L. Carson

Dr. Carson

Dr. Sendhil Subramanian

Dr. Subramanian

Did You Know?

Approximately 70% of all leg ulcers are venous ulcers and approximately 10% of all leg ulcers are arterial ulcers.