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Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Treating Ulcers

If leg swelling due to chronic venous insufficiency isn’t controlled, an ulcer (open wound) can form. Although ulcers vary in size and shape, they usually appear on the inside of the ankle.

Swollen ankle
Blood pools around the ankle. The area may look puffy or swollen, and the skin may dimple when pressed.

Bulging ankle
Fluid leaks from the veins into surrounding tissue. The ankle may bulge, and the skin may glisten.

Image of ulcer
An ulcer forms if the skin is broken by a bump or a scratch. The ulcer appears watery and may seep fluid.

Doctor and patient
Your doctor or nurse may apply a special dressing to help the ulcer heal and protect it from infection.

Treating an Ulcer

  • Visit your doctor. Ulcers need frequent medical care. Special dressings may be applied. You may be given antibiotics to fight infection.

  • Your doctor may prescribe medications, such as aspirin or pentoxifylline, to help the ulcer heal.

  • Elevate your legs often to reduce swelling. The ulcer needs oxygen-rich blood to heal. This blood can’t reach the ulcer until swelling is reduced.

When to Call Your Doctor

Contact your doctor right away if:

  • You have an increase in pain.

  • You develop a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher.

  • The ulcer oozes discolored fluid or smells bad.

  • Swelling increases suddenly or the dressing feels tight.

© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.