A leg ulcer is a breakdown of the skin on your leg or foot often, as a result of a relatively minor injury e.g. insect bite. For the majority of individuals these will heal without the requirement for medical input. However, individuals with poor circulation (e.g. venous disease, including varicose veins) or peripheral arterial disease) may fail to heal their wound, leading to the development of a chronic leg ulcer- a leg ulcer that has failed to heal within six weeks of occurrence.
Chronic leg ulcers typically occur in the older adult population, but may affect any age group. They have a negative impact on an individual’s quality of life often being very painful and limiting mobility. They are prone to infection which may precipitate a rapid increase in their size and depth; erosion into underlying tissues including muscle and bone is not uncommon.
Healing rarely occurs without medical input and treatment is based around best local wound management (e.g. appropriate dressings, infection control) combined with the investigation and treatment of the underlying circulatory disease. Healing may take several months even when the underlying cause has been adequately addressed. Nevertheless, even in the most stubborn cases healing is successfully achieved in all but the most extreme of cases.