Leg Ulcers

Heading into winter, a lot of people will develop ulcers. They are very common in America, affecting both men and women of all ages and races.

There are 3 kinds of ulcers, and each is very serious:
1. Arterial (Artery) Ulcers
2. Venous (Vein) Ulcers
3. Pressure Ulcers

Arterial Ulcers are caused by Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and other artery diseases. PAD can be caused by:

• diabetes
• cigarette smoking
• high cholesterol
• being overweight
• family history

Vein Ulcers are most often on ankles or calves of the legs. They are most often caused by leaky or blocked veins in legs. When circulation from long-standing reflux in veins causes the skin to become thickened and inflamed, it can actually break down into an open sore.

“Like all ulcers, this type of ulcer is serious,” says Dr. Zadeh. “It leads to swollen legs, thickening of the skin, and discoloration. The veins can bleed into the skin and turn it a dark brown and purple color.”

Pressure Ulcers are most often found on heels and areas of the body that could be under pressure. They are caused by gravity or pressure, and lack of exercise or ability to move lower extremities. They are often found on people who are recovering from orthopedic injuries, have disabilities or are in nursing facilities.

People with pressure ulcers may or may not have vein and artery disease. Once we diagnose this condition, we treat any vein and artery affected. Then, we protect that area of the body and skin with special garments, boots, or beds that will offload the pressure. We also use antibiotics, special ointments, and wound vacs.

In severe cases, the patient may need debridement (removing dead tissue) or skin grafting. This should only be done by a skilled, experienced physician.