Varicose Ulcer

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis of the Varicose Ulcer

A varicose ulcer is also called stasis dermatitis and a venous ulcer, which is a skin condition that develops when fluid starts to build up under the skin, causing serious swelling.  In addition to the swelling being uncomfortable, this condition creates serious problems.  Eventually, the swelling blocks blood from feeding cells, which makes it impossible for waste to be pushed from the body.  With the affected tissue not getting proper nourishment and the skin being fragile, ulcer tend to worsen.

The cause of this type of ulcer could actually be a number of different things.  For instance, for someone living with diabetes, a layer of skin might break and then fail to heal.  When this happens, the area becomes inflamed, sore, and often, infected.  Sometimes, an ulcer such as this is found in the elderly due to thinning of skin associated with age, it could be from an accident, other skin conditions, stroke, angina, heart attack, tumors, and even infection found a different part of the body.

Once circulation has been altered, more serious health problems can develop.  On the more minor side, a person could develop unsightly and sometimes, uncomfortable varicose veins.  These veins are typically large and in severe cases, they would need to be removed surgically.  However, the more serious health risk of a varicose ulcer is congestive heart failure.  In rare cases, the cutoff of circulation would be so bad that a person could lose a leg to amputation.

The most common signs and symptoms of this type of ulcer include dark areas on the legs or around the ankles, excessive itching, pain, skin that looks tissue thin, open sores, lesions, red splotches, extreme swelling, and thickening of the skin.  Depending on the person, a single symptom might develop or all symptoms.  Once noticed, a person should seek medical attention in that waiting could allow the varicose ulcer to worsen to the point of needing surgery or being put on heart medication.

In some cases, swelling associated with a varicose ulcer will disappear on its own but usually, diuretics are needed to eliminate excess fluid.  Other things that can be done to help with the development of an ulcer include wearing special elastic stockings that improve blood circulation, getting involved with minor activity, which also helps with circulation, and keeping any open sores from becoming infected by using a topical antibiotic.

Unfortunately, this condition is chronic and while symptoms of a varicose ulcer can be reduced and even eliminated, the challenge would be to keep the swelling from returning and the condition from spiraling out of control.  When an ulcer first develops or after it has already been in existence for some time, it would be important to watch for infection.  Once infection sets in, a different set of symptoms would appear to include drainage of pus, discomfort changing to pain, and redness developing at the site.  If any of these symptoms were to develop, the person should seek medical attention immediately.

To prevent a varicose ulcer, it would be important to maintain a healthy weight, follow up with a doctor for any slow-healing wounds, keep the skin clean, and take vitamins and supplements.  While no one method exists for preventing this problem, living a healthy lifestyle and getting medical treatment when needed are the best options.