Causes And Care For A Stasis Ulcer
A stasis ulcer is one of three primary types of foot and leg ulcers. They are generally found on the inner portion of your leg, above your ankle but below your knee. Medially speaking, ulcers are open sores or wounds that either keep returning or will simply not heal and go away.
The base portion of a stasis ulcer is typically red and is often covered with some yellow fibrous tissues. If it is infected, there may also be the presence of yellow or green discharge. With this kind of ulcer, fluid drainage is usually quite significant.
The borders around the ulcer are typically irregularly shaped and the skin that is surrounding them often becomes swollen and discolored as well. Also, depending on how much swelling is associated with the stasis ulcer, the skin may appear tight, shiny and warm to the touch.
These types of ulcers are quite common in individuals who have leg swelling, varicose veins or blood clots in their personal or family medical history. This type of ulcer can affect both legs and it is responsible for over 80 percent of the 600,000 Americans who are affected by leg ulcers every year.
Causes Of A Stasis Ulcer
- Slowed blood circulation in the veins
- Poor circulation which is typically caused by arteriosclerosis
- Clotting and circulation disorders
- Kidney failure
- Lymphedema, which is a build up of fluids
- Inflammatory diseases such as lupus, vasculitis or scleroderma
- Smoking (past or present)
- Medical conditions including heart disease, high cholesterol, sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure and bowel disorders
- A tumor or cancerous mass
- Specific medications
A stasis ulcer is usually treated by applying a compression to the area to help minimize the swelling. Such treatments include wearing several layers of compression wraps, ACE bandages or compression stockings from the toes to the knee. The type of compression needed will be based on the ulcer drainage and its overall characteristics.
There are also various types of dressings that may be prescribed based on the appearance of the stasis ulcer, such as:
- Hydro gels
- Moist to moist dressings
- Alginate dressings
- Debriding agents
- Collagen wound dressings
- Composite dressings
- Antimicrobial dressings
- Synthetic skin substitutes
Other treatment options may include applying antibiotics if there is an infection present, using anti-clotting medications, topical wound care therapy and prosthetics.
People with diabetes are very prone to developing a stasis ulcer. Detecting sores early can help prevent infection.
- Wash the area on your leg with lukewarm water and mild soap everyday. Washing helps to remove drainage, dead skin and debris from the ulcer. Always dry the skin completely and pay close attention to your feet and between your toes.
- Do a self-examination of your feet, toes and legs everyday. Check for scratches, cracks, cuts, blisters, calluses, corns, ingrown toenails and redness.
- Apply a cream that is lanolin-based to your feet and legs twice a day to prevent cracking. Never apply the lotion to an open wound or between your toes.
- Cut your toenails regularly after you bathe so they are soft and then smooth them with an emery board.
- If you notice any calluses or corns, do not attempt to treat them at home. Let a podiatrist handle them.
- Manage your blood pressure
- Limit sodium intake
- Quit smoking
- Control your cholesterol levels with a healthy diet.
- Manage your diabetes
- Maintain your ideal weight
- Exercise daily
- Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin everyday to prevent blood clots