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Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Treating Ulcers

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

Treating an ulcer

  • See your healthcare provider. Ulcers need frequent medical care. Special dressings may be applied. You may be given antibiotics to fight infection.

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines, such as aspirin or pentoxifylline, to help the ulcer heal.

  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe compression stockings to help with the swelling. 

  • 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 healthcare provider

Seek immediate medical attention if: 

  • You have an increase in pain

  • You develop a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • The area around the ulcer becomes red, tender, or both

  • The ulcer oozes discolored fluid or smells bad

  • Swelling increases suddenly or the dressing feels tight

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deepak Sudheendra MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2019
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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