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What is a Stasis Ulcer?

By Charity Delich
Updated May 16, 2024
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A stasis ulcer is an open sore that appears on the skin, typically resulting from fluid building up underneath the skin. Most stasis ulcers appear on the inner part of a person’s lower leg, usually slightly above the ankle. A stasis ulcer can be extremely painful in some cases, although individuals with minor ulcers may experience little or no pain. Some individuals develop multiple ulcers, which can appear on both legs. A stasis ulcer may also be referred to as a venous stasis ulcer or a varicose ulcer.

People who suffer from stasis ulcers tend to have medical conditions like varicose veins or blood clotting. A leg injury can also contribute to the development of a stasis ulcer, even if the injury is minor. Overweight people are more susceptible to developing these kinds of ulcers, and women are more often affected than men. Lying or sitting in one spot for long periods of time can also cause a person to develop a stasis ulcer.

Most venous stasis ulcers are caused by inadequate vein function. When people develop stasis ulcers, fluid usually leaks out of their veins and into their skin tissue. This primarily occurs as a result of blood getting clogged instead of being pumped back to the heart through the veins.

Typically, a stasis ulcer looks like an open sore, and it is often red or brown in color with irregularly-shaped borders. The area around the ulcer may be swollen and discolored, and it may be itchy or flaky before the ulcer actually forms. The ulcer may be covered with clear, green, or yellow discharge. In general, ulcers that are infected emit a greater amount of discharge. In some cases, hard and sensitive lumps form underneath the skin surrounding the ulcer.

Venous stasis ulcer treatment varies, depending on the severity of the ulcer. Milder ulcers, which look like small skin cuts or scrapes, can usually be treated at home. For these kinds of ulcers, the skin should first be cleaned with mild soap and water. Next, the wound should be lightly coated with petroleum jelly and loosely covered with a gauze bandage. Adhesive tapes and other such materials should not be put on the wound because they can irritate the skin. Caution is advised when using over-the-counter antibiotics because they can cause allergic reactions in some people.

If a mild ulcer does not heal after a few of days of self-care, a doctor should be consulted. Painful, swollen, or deep ulcers should also be examined by a doctor. Doctors may treat the ulcer by prescribing medication in order to treat the infection and aid in the healing process. In some cases, such as when other treatment methods are not working, surgery may be required. A doctor may also employ compression techniques in order to prevent new ulcers from developing in the future.

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