While most often ulcers and wounds on the legs and feet are associated with diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, these breaks in the skin can be associated with other conditions as well. One of the common causes of skin ulcerations on the foot and ankle is venous insufficiency.
The purpose of veins is to send blood from the periphery of the body back to the heart. However with venous insufficiency the one-way valves of the veins struggle to function and the veins are not able to pump the blood back to the heart and become incompetent even allowing blood to flow backwards. When this happens, blood accumulates in the veins and can even leak out of the vessels in the lower extremities. At this point the skin can become affected with a condition called stasis dermatitis. With stasis dermatitis the skin may become darker in color, appearing red, brown, or purple and may become thick and itchy. The lower extremities may also become swollen. With time, an ulcer may form on its own or due to scratching of the area. Most often these ulcers begin on the inner ankles and are very superficial or shallow. Other symptoms may include heaviness in the legs and pain after standing.
As far as treatment, compression stockings can be prescribed by a physician to help with blood flow and decrease swelling. Elevating the legs when possible during the day is a very important step in treating venous insufficiency ulcers. Regular debridement and dressing changes by a podiatrist will also help venous ulcers heal. Vascular physicians and specialists should also be consulted with this condition.
If you are suffering with swollen, itchy, or discolored legs, consider visiting the physicians of Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates with office locations in Palm Coast, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, and Orange City.