A stasis ulcer may be a breakdown of the skin (ulcer) caused by fluid build-up within the skin from poor vein function (venous insufficiency). Fluid leaks from the veins into skin tissue when the blood backs up instead of returning to the guts through the veins.
Who's at risk?
Leg vein malfunction (venous insufficiency) affects 2–5% of usa citizens , and approximately half 1,000,000 Americans have stasis ulcers. Women are more often suffering from stasis ulcers than men.
Your risk for acquiring a stasis ulcer is bigger if you:
Ø Are overweight.
Ø Have varicose veins.
Ø Have had blood clots in your legs.
Ø Had a leg injury (trauma) that might affect blood flow in your leg veins; even minor trauma may cause an ulcer.
Signs and Symptoms
Swelling of the leg, brown discoloration, or an itchy, red, rough area (stasis dermatitis) may appear before you notice an ulcer. This is often seen on the inner ankle area first, although any area on the lower leg could also be affected. Varicose veins may be present. Sometimes there are hard, tender lumps under the skin near the ulcer.
The ulcer may be a crater-like, irregular area of skin loss. It may be an open, easily bleeding, painful wound, or it'd have a thick black scab. The level of pain varies.
People with a leg ulcer should seek medical aid if it's anything beyond a little scrape or cut on the surface of the skin.
If the ulcer appears minor:
Ø Clean it with soap and water.
Ø Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) and a clean gauze bandage.
Ø Avoid putting any tape or adhesive on the skin.
Ø Avoid using topical antibiotics and other over-the-counter products, as people with leg ulcers often become allergic to these products.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you've got pain, swelling, spreading red areas, fever, or any open wound that doesn't heal after a couple of days of self-care, seek medical advice.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
In addition to a thorough exam, your physician may test to evaluate how well your veins are working.
Treatment may consist of:
Ø Procedures to reduce leg swelling.
Ø Medication for any dermatitis or infection that is present.
Ø Special wound dressings.
Ø Pentoxifylline to aid healing.
Ø Surgery if other medical treatment fails.
Ø Compression hose to prevent the ulcer from coming back.
Most ulcers heal within 1–4 months, but about 25% will still be present after a year.
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