Signs and Symptoms of Venous Stasis Ulcers

Written by jennifer s. wright
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Signs and Symptoms of Venous Stasis Ulcers
Venous stasis ulcers are commonly found just above the ankle. (pieds sur tissus éclatant image by Lounatiq from

According to The Cleveland Clinic, venous stasis ulcers affect 500,000 to 600,000 people in the United States annually. These ulcers occur when the veins are unable to bring fluid and blood back to the heart. Instead, the fluid pools in the legs, and ulcers develop as a result of the fluid build-up under the skin. Risk factors for developing a stasis ulcer include being overweight, having varicose veins, blood clots in the legs and injury to the legs. You may notice signs and symptoms of venous stasis ulcers on one or both legs.

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The shallow, craterlike venous ulcer has an irregular border with a red base. The wound is open with a moist, pink centre, or covered by a thick black scab or yellow fibrous tissue. A venous stasis ulcer can drain a significant amount of fluid. According to The Cleveland Clinic, these ulcers are usually found on the inner portion of the lower leg just above the ankle but can be found anywhere below the knee. Contact your physician if the ulcer shows signs of infection which can include pain, swelling, a spreading red area, or green, yellow or white drainage. Venous stasis ulcers can take four months to heal, and according to, 25 per cent of ulcers do not heal even after a year.

Skin Changes

The skin around the ulcer may appear tight, shiny and swollen with a reddish-brown tinge. The skin is thin and itchy. According to, the reddish-brown discolouration occurs because the pigments in the red blood cells from the pooled blood stain the skin from the inside. To reduce the swelling, raise your legs above the level of your heart on pillows or an ottoman three times a day for at least 30 minutes and avoid prolonged standing or walking.

Warmth and Pain

According to The Cleveland Clinic, the skin around the ulcer can feel warm or hot. Pain associated with a venous stasis ulcer can vary from person to person and is described as a tenderness, aching or burning sensation. You may also feel a heaviness or fullness to the legs.

Varicose Veins

According to, varicose veins can be present. These twisted, bulging veins are dark purple or blue in colour, and may look like cords or a bunch or grapes. Sensations may include achiness, heaviness, burning, throbbing and cramping, and the pain can worsen after prolonged standing or sitting.

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