Varicose Ulcers

Varicose ulcers can be long-lasting problems for sufferers but can be healed quite rapidly with appropriate treatment.  Treating the underlying varicose veins will prevent further ulcer recurrence.

Nobody who has experienced them either first or second-hand would wish them on anyone.  

What are they exactly?  Can they be managed?  Is there a best way to do so?  Should the underlying problems be treated before the ulcer is healed?

A varicose ulcer tends to be a long-lasting problem.  When it occurs it can take months and years to heal. There are people in whom it never seems to heal.  A long-standing ulcer can occasionally be a site for development of a skin cancer.  


Varicose Ulcer Causes

Usually they occur from a seemingly small injury - a graze, scratch or bite.  

Many people are aware how the lower leg does not seem to heal as well as other parts of the body.  

People with varicose veins have even poorer skin health in their lower legs.  The accumulation of waste products in the area makes the tissue less healthy.  

Once a small breach occurs healing is consequently very slow.  Any minor trauma to the healing area will delay healing even more than usual.  With very poor tissue health practically no healing occurs.


Cost Of Ulcer Treatments

The treatment of varicose ulcers consumes a vast proportion of the health budget in most developed countries.  So much more than such a simple problem should.  The ulcers need regular attention and dressing.

Antibiotic Use

Often people with varicose ulcers will be treated with oral or topical antibiotics.  Frequently this is quite unnecessary.  

Taking a bacterial swab will often result in a positive culture.  Frequently the cultured bacteria has no impact on the wound healing.  

Topical antibiotics can impeed wound healing.  They also risk sensitising the person they are used on to the antibiotic.  

Oral antibiotcs risk all the problems associated with them - even worse if they are not necessary. 



There are many dressings that have been touted as the best cure for varicose ulcers. Usually in medicine if there are multiple suggested remedies it usually indicates that none of them are particularly effective.

Best Treatment Options

The best treatment is to return the surrounding skin to as near normal circulation as possible.  Then the body will heal the defect.  

This is best achieved with an appropriate compression stocking.  Not the TED stockings worn after surgery, but specially designed varicose vein stockings - usually at least a Class II.  

Walking and similar activity will aid good circulation.  

There was a time when people were medically recommended to rest the affected limb. And to elevate it.

Many studies have shown that activity, with a good supportive stocking is best.  The combination produces optimum conditions to maximise healing.  


Best Dressings

Dressing of the varicose ulcer area is best with the most simple dressing that will not stick on removal.  Either a saline soaked dressing or a paraffin gauze. It needs to allow maximal healing underneath it.

Surgery And Ulcers

In the days when surgery was the only viable option for treating varicose veins, surgeons only liked operating once the ulcers were healed.  This was to avoid surgical wound infections from a open wound like the ulcer.


Quickest Way To Heal Ulcers

With the more modern treatments of endovenous laser and ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, those recommendations no longer apply.  

In fact the quickest way to heal a varicose ulcer, besides the above recommendations is to treat the problem veins by one or both of these treatments.  Healing will rapidly follow.

You can see more on the topic of varicose ulcers at the new website I am building.


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