Doctor-prescribed advanced wound care dressings are vital to the healing of chronic leg ulcers.
For patients coping with vein disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other diseases that compromise the circulatory system, leg ulcers represent a potentially serious risk that could lead to health complications. According to American Family Physician, venous ulcers are the most common type of lower extremity ulcerations and affect 1% of adults living in the U.S. Venous ulcers are often chronic wounds, known for recurring and persisting for weeks or even years without proper treatment. The best place to start the wound healing process for chronic leg ulcers is with a doctor’s prescription for advanced wound care products.
What Causes Leg Ulcers?
Circulatory issues, vein disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are a few of the health conditions conducive to the development of leg ulcers, as well as bacterial skin infections that resist healing. Signs of a possible leg ulcer include swelling, pain, yellowish-green seepage, loss of skin pigmentation around the ulcer, and hyperkeratosis (abnormal skin thickness). Unless treated with the right wound care products, leg ulcers may enlarge and cause bone infections, cellulitis, and even necrotizing fasciitis.
Dressing Leg Ulcers with Wound Care Products
It is vital to properly apply the appropriate type of dressing or other wound care product when treating slow-healing wounds like leg ulcers. Initially, your physician will debride skin ulcers to decrease your risk of infection and promote wound healing. Following debridement, leg ulcers should be flushed with a non-cytotoxic or sterile saline cleanser before applying a dressing or compression bandage.
Compression garments, or dressings that put pressure on leg ulcers, encourage blood circulation through your feet and legs and prevent swelling and ulceration. Multi‐component dressing systems, such as using a combination of compression stockings and wound dressings, seem to work better when one component is an elastic-type bandage.
An optimized compression bandage system, as may be suggested by your physician for treating leg ulcers and venous insufficiencies in the lower extremities, is anatomically conformable, meaning it permits full movement and functionality of your leg. This is ideal, as compression garments need to feel comfortable while resting or doing physical activity.
Leg ulcers often become chronic due to bacterial infections that prove difficult to heal. Research investigating the efficacy of silver-based wound dressings for fighting bacterial infections found that silver molecules produced by nanotechnology promote healing of chronic wounds. Silver-based dressings used in wound care treatment utilize fibers infused with silver in the part of the bandage that touches the wound surface, thereby directly defending the wound site against bacteria.
Biological Wound Care Products
Research results regarding the use of active and interactive dressings indicate that active (or biological) dressings innervate growth factors vital to stimulating wound closure much more than passive dressings, which simply cover the wound and absorb drainage. Additionally, cellular and tissue-based wound care products provide a favorably moist environment necessary for successful leg ulcer management.
Topical Wound Care Products
Topical wound care products often recommended for leg ulcers include foam dressings, antimicrobial dressings, and alginate dressings. Foam dressings promote a moist wound environment and easily conform to different sizes and shapes, making them a great option for leg ulcers. Alginates are capable of absorbing large amounts of wound drainage and promote new skin growth. Gels formed by alginate wound care products further prevent wound dehydration while supporting debridement necessary for healing chronic leg ulcers. Because of their versatility, both foam and alginate dressings can be used in conjunction with silver-based dressings to fight infection.
For help staging and caring for a leg ulcer, download Advanced Tissue’s wound care poster and talk to your doctor about which advanced wound care products are right for you.