Chronic Venous Insufficiency: Treating Ulcers

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

Treating an ulcer

Healthcare provider with digital tablet talking to woman in exam room.

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

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

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

  • Raise (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

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following: 

  • More pain

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

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

  • The ulcer oozes discolored fluid or smells bad

  • Swelling increases suddenly or the dressing feels tight

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