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Douglas Street | Dealing with leg ulcers

Published:Tuesday | November 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMDr Douglas Street

A leg ulcer is really an unpleasant condition to deal with, whether you are the one afflicted with it or the one treating it. It can be unpleasant to look at and can even carry an odour. It is usually a source of embarrassment for those afflicted with it. They can also be difficult to treat. Can more be done for them?

The circulation around the ankles is usually poor, even under normal circumstances. When a medical condition that affects the circulation is added, then the area can become a ticking time bomb. The circulation in the area may be able to sustain vitality under normal circumstances in these situations, but should there be injury to the skin, the circulation may not be adequate to facilitate healing and an ulcer develops as a result. There are even times when ulcers form spontaneously due to an inadequate blood supply, so the skin just dies and breaks down, forming the ulcer.

There are a number of conditions that predispose to the formation of ulcers. These include sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, varicose veins, and inflammatory diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.




Inflammation is a common feature of ulcers and is probably the root cause in most, if not all, of the disease conditions that lead to leg ulcers. This is why interventions that reduce inflammation are so important. There is a tendency to think that inflammation is the result of the poor circulation, but it actually seems to be the cause. Inflammation is a systemic problem, so usually other organs and systems are involved. It impairs the circulatory system, leading to reduction in circulation as well as other features of inflammation, such as darkening and swelling.

One common medication used in the treatment of ulcers is Daflon. Daflon is actually a flavonoid, which is a plant-based nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, there are other interventions that are helpful in reducing inflammation which were discussed before. These include nutrition, moderate exercise, adequate use of water, healthy sunshine, moderation in all things, avoiding harmful substances and practices, fresh air, adequate and proper rest, and other antioxidant supplements and interventions. There is a tendency to focus on one or two interventions - which may not be adequate - and there are frequent failures when treating this way. A more holistic approach is more likely to bring success.