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Wound Facts & Prevention

Preventing Venous Leg Ulcers

What Causes Venous Leg Ulcers?

Venous leg ulcers are caused by venous insufficiency, or poorly functioning valves in the veins of the legs. Sometimes known as venous stasis ulcers, these chronic wounds are difficult to treat and often recur.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk Of Developing A Venous Leg Ulcer?

There are several things you can do to help keep your veins healthy and improve vascular health. Following are some tips to help you prevent venous leg ulcers:

Wear support stockings

Even if you are not at risk for vascular disease, compression stockings are a simple way to encourage blood flow back to the heart. You do not need a prescription for compression stockings, which are sold at most medical supply stores. Stockings should be put on first thing in the morning, worn all day, and taken off at night.

Exercise regularly

Walk daily, but be sure to stop and rest if your feet or legs begin to hurt. Talk to your doctor or nurse before you begin any fitness program.

Eat properly

Maintain a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, high-protein foods and plenty of fluids. Reduce your weight as recommended by your doctor.

Avoid long periods of sitting or standing

Long periods of sitting or standing can inhibit blood flow back to the heart. If you must stand or sit for an extended period of time, point and flex your toes to flex your calf muscles and do calf raises every thirty minutes. When sitting, avoid crossing your legs and elevate them above heart level.

Care for your skin

Wash your legs and feet daily with mild soap and warm (not hot) water. Use a recommended lotion to keep your skin soft.

Watch for early signs of ulcer formation

Inspect your legs and feet regularly for signs of infection or injury.

Wear proper footwear

Be sure that you wear cotton socks and sturdy, comfortable tie shoes that fit properly at all times.

Don't smoke

Smoking may deplete the blood of oxygen and poses numerous health risks.

See your doctor

Your doctor can check your venous flow to determine the health of your vascular system.