Venous insufficiency leg ulcers, also referred to as stasis, insufficiency, varicose or venous ulcers, are wounds that are thought to occur due to improper functioning of venous valves, usually of the legs (hence leg ulcers). They are the major occurrence of chronic wounds, occurring in 70% to 90% of leg ulcer cases. Venous ulcers develop mostly along the medial distal leg, and can be painful with negative effects on quality of life.
What are venous ulcers?
Venous ulcers (open sores), also referred to as stasis, insufficiency or varicose ulcers, are the result of malfunctioning venous valves causing pressure in the veins to increase. These typically occur along the medial or lateral distal (lower) leg. The resulting venous hypertension causes blood pooling when it is not as efficiently pumped back towards the heart, otherwise known as venous insufficiency. If not treated, increased pressure and excess fluid in the affected area can cause an open sore to form.
What are the signs and symptoms of venous ulcers?
When blood pools in the veins of the lower leg, fluid and blood cells leak out into the skin and other tissues. This can cause itchy, thin skin and lead to skin changes called stasis dermatitis, an early sign of venous insufficiency.
Signs and symptoms of venous ulcers include:
- Shallow sore with a red base, sometimes covered by yellow tissue
- Unevenly shaped borders
- Surrounding skin may be shiny, tight, warm or hot, and discolored
- Leg pain
- If the sore becomes infected, it may have a bad odor and pus may drain from the wound