When vein disease in your leg progresses, it can result in something called a venous ulcer. Such ulcers often appear as we get older and may be more common when early signs of varicose veins are ignored. If you think you have a venous ulcer, you must seek diagnosis and treatment. Otherwise, the problem will only get worse.
Signs of an ulcer
A venous ulcer does not always present itself as an open wound. Signs of a problem often begin as a discolored – brown or red — area on the inside of your leg just above the ankle. That’s blood pooling and spreading beneath the skin. The large veins in your legs have valves that open when your heart pumps blood throughout your body and back to your heart, and then close to keep the blood from flowing downward. When the valves weaken and fail to close completely, your veins bulge and change color leading to Varicose Veins. And in some cases, blood seeps from the vein into the surrounding skin. The affected area will feel swollen and tight and might ache or feel heavy. Standing for a long time will make it feel worse. If you don’t treat the symptoms, the area could become infected, your skin might develop a hard covering over the affected area, and an open sore might develop.
Your vein doctor will address the problem of the pooled blood in a variety of ways. The most common treatment is compression stockings, which help move the blood in your leg back toward your heart. You will be instructed to elevate your leg as often as possible and avoid standing for long periods. If you smoke or are overweight, your doctor will talk to you about that, too.
Hydrocortisone cream might be prescribed to stop itching and your doctor might apply antibacterial medicine to prevent or knock down infections. Various types of dressings are available depending on how the ulcer has progressed and your doctor might perform minor surgery to remove injured skin.
Addressing the underlying cause to prevent future ulcers
Ultrasound, a quick and painless procedure, will help determine the extent of the problem in your veins. Your doctor will discuss the findings with you and help you decide whether further treatment for varicose veins is advisable. Non-surgical office procedures are often recommended, including sclerotherapy, and endovenous laser treatment. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into varicose veins so that they collapse. Endovenous laser treatment uses a laser to achieve the same results. When the problematic varicose veins collapse, other veins take over the blood flow.
Don’t ignore the symptoms
Venous ulcers will not go away without treatment and probably will get worse. Your vein doctor will involve you in treatment; relief will come when you recognize and address the underlying problems and then aggressively treat the symptoms.