person wondering if they have a foot or leg ulcer

What to Do When You Have a Foot or Leg Ulcer

Ulcers are open sores or wounds on your feet or legs that won’t heal or keep coming back after healing. They are painful and can keep you from physical activity. They are also a place that can become easily infected. Learn what you can do when you have a foot or leg ulcer below.

Causes

A foot or leg ulcer can be caused by many medical issues including:

  • Insufficient or poor circulation in the legs or feet
  • Venous insufficiency (congestion in leg veins caused by valve failure)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling in the legs and feet
  • Inflammatory diseases such as lupus
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • History of smoking (even if you quit)
  • Lying in one position too long (such as bedridden patients)
  • Genetics
  • Malignant tumor
  • Infection
  • Medications

Prevention and Treatment of a Foot or Leg Ulcer

Prevention

To keep ulcers from forming, you’ll need to adopt a healthy lifestyle by reducing the risk factors. Start by:

  • Managing your blood pressure
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Limiting salt
  • Managing diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Prevention and treatment go hand-in-hand. To prevent further ulcers, begin by taking care of your legs and feet regularly. People with diabetes must check their own feet daily and have their physicians check them periodically. Sores that are discovered early are easier to manage. Wash your feet and legs daily with mild soap and lukewarm water. If you have an ulcer, washing will help any debris loosen and drainage clear. Gently dry skin thoroughly.

Examine your legs and feet daily thoroughly including between toes. Look for any cuts or cracks, ingrown toenails, corns, or calluses. Use a lanolin-based cream to moisturize your skin in the morning and before bed. Don’t apply lotion on open sores or cuts. Cut toenails regularly after bathing when they are softer. Cut straight across and smooth with emery board or file.

Treatment

Treatment will relieve pain, and help sores heal faster. Your doctor will prescribe individualized treatment depending on the causes and types of ulcers you have. Treatments can include any or all of the following:

  • Antibiotics for infection
  • Medications to prevent blood clots
  • Topical care for ulcers
  • Compression stockings (to increase circulation)
  • Orthotics or prosthetics

For more information on a foot or leg ulcer, make an appointment with Georgia Vascular Institute today by calling 770-506-4007. We have several convenient locations in the metro Atlanta area including Atlanta, Decatur, Forest Park, Stockbridge, and Jonesboro.