ARTERIAL ULCERS

WHAT IS AN ARTERIAL ULCER?


An arterial ulcer is a slow healing area of broken skin, usually on areas of the lower leg or foot.

Early signs include cool or cold skin, and a reduced pulse in the foot. The appearance of the skin may change and it may look shiny, thin, tight and dry. The skin may be hairless, and the toenails may be thick and brittle. Healing can be delayed due to poor circulation of blood to the leg.

HOW IS IT CAUSED?


Arterial ulcers result from a partial or complete blockage of the blood supply. It is sometimes called arterial insufficiency.

Healing can be delayed due to poor circulation of blood to the leg.

WHO IS AT RISK?


You are at greater risk of develop an arterial leg ulcer if you smoke, are diabetic or have a history of heart disease.
All of these factors can reduce or affect your circulation causing narrowing or blockage of the arteries to your leg.

WHAT TREATMENT WILL I RECEIVE?


The treatment you receive will depend on how bad your circulation is.

Typically we will:
  • Take a full history from you
  • Assess the circulation in your legs by completing a Doppler examination which we can do in clinic
  • If necessary, undertake a scan (duplex examination) of your leg that is undertaken in an X ray Department
  • If you are experiencing pain we will be able to prescribe pain killing medication.
 Treating arterial ulcers involves treating the underlying arterial disease, which may involve consultation with a surgeon who specialises in improving your blood supply.

Your wound will be dressed with the appropriate dressing, in order to minimise pain and prevent infection.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO HEAL?


Arterial ulcers can take a long time to heal, and this may depend on thetreatment you are undergoing to treat the poor circulation. Indivdual's are likely to vary in their rate of healing, which depends on how good the circulation is.

WHAT CAN I DO TO AID HEALING


You can:
  • Reduce weight (advice available from your GP if needed).
  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet
  • Prevent skin from drying out, by applying a moisturiser daily
  • Stop smoking.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT


The Circulation Foundation provides advice and support through their website, including a free risk checker for vascular disease.
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