Skin Ulcers

Skin | Dermatology | Skin Ulcers (Symptom)


Skin ulcers refers to stasis dermatitis and ulcers and represents a series of skin changes that occur when blood pools (backs up) into the veins of the lower leg.

Venous insufficiency is a long-term condition (chronic) condition in which the veins have problems returning blood from the legs to the heart. Some people with severe venous stasis develop dermatitis. Blood collects in the veins of the lower leg. The fluid and blood cells are filtered out of the veins into the skin and other tissues. This can lead to itching, which causes further changes in the skin.

Signs of venous insufficiency include a dull ache or heaviness in the leg and pain that worsens when standing. At first, the skin of the ankles and lower legs may look like thin or tissue. Brown spots can slowly develop on the skin. When scratching the area, the skin may become irritated or cracked. It can also become red or swollen, crusty or suppurative.


The wounds from which ulcers arise can be caused by a wide variety of factors, but the main cause is impaired blood circulation. Especially, chronic wounds and ulcers are caused by poor circulation, either through cardiovascular issues or external pressure from a bed or a wheelchair. A very common and dangerous type of skin ulcers are caused by what are called pressure sensitive sores, more commonly called bed sores and which are frequent in people who are bedridden or who use wheelchairs for long periods. Other causes producing skin ulcers include bacterial or viral infections, fungal infections and cancers. Blood disorders and chronic wounds can result in skin ulcers as well.

Venous leg ulcers due to impaired circulation or a blood flow disorder are more common in the elderly.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Skin ulcers may take a very long time to heal. Treatment is typically to avoid the ulcer getting infected, remove any excess discharge, maintain a moist wound environment, control the edema, and ease pain caused by nerve and tissue damage. Treatment for a skin ulcer can include protective bandages or splints, antibiotic cream or ointments, oral antibiotics as well as whirlpool baths. Additional treatments can include surgery to remove infected tissue from the ulcer.