What is it?

A leg ulcer is a wound on the leg or ankle. The wound is usually caused by damaged veins or veins not working properly. They can also occur due to blood clots, injuries or obesity. They are more common in older people with poor circulation.

Symptoms of leg ulcers are a rash that develops into a wound, as well as leg swelling and aching. Leg ulcers can be treated, and your GP will recommend the most suitable treatment approach.


What will my GP do now?

Your GP will diagnose the type of leg ulcer so it can be treated.

Your GP will also:

  • Determine the underlying cause of your type of leg ulcer
  • Discuss any factors or risks that may affect healing
  • Give you advice to promote healing and prevent infection, including skincare and nutritional tips
  • Talk to you about suitable exercises that help improve circulation
  • Discuss medications and pain relief

Your GP will refer you for a simple test called an ankle brachial pressure index. This test helps to rule out arterial disease, which is a form of poor circulation, so you can know if compression therapy is a safe option for you. Some people with poor circulation shouldn’t wear compression stockings.

If you have an arterial leg ulcer, you may need to see a specialist. Surgery and walking programs can help to treat arterial leg ulcers.

If your leg ulcer is found to be a complication of your diabetes, also known as a diabetic neuropathic wound, you may need to see a specialist for treatment. Treatment involves air walkers and specially made shoes.

Lymphatic leg ulcers can be treated with massage, exercise, compression therapy and pain relief.


What will my GP do in the future?

Your GP will continue to monitor your leg ulcer and check it is healing well. You may need a specialist referral if your ulcer becomes infected. If your leg ulcer isn’t healing well, your GP might perform more tests to exclude any underlying factors. If you need support or help at home, your GP can refer you to a community wound support service.

Your GP will give you strategies to prevent another leg ulcer from developing.