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What are Leg Ulcers?

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What are Leg Ulcers?

Leg Ulcers are open, non-healing wounds of the legs, usually the lower legs, or the feet.

Ulcers can be painful or not painful, big or small, wet or dry, smelly or not smelly. There are many different appearances of ulcers when looked at on the surface and this has resulted in a lot of confusion especially in nurses and dermatologists who only look at the surface.

By looking at the ulcer, you can check that there is nothing abnormal, for example a rare skin cancer growing in it, but there is very little that can be found just from looking at the surface of a leg ulcer. Unquestionably, it is impossible to tell which are curable or incurable just from looking at the surface alone.

The word ‘ulcer’ means a break in the layer of cells forming a surface. This can occur in many different areas of the body, with distinct issues causing the ulcer to form. For example, a stomach ulcer is caused by the cells, forming the lining of the stomach, breaking down and allowing digestive acid to attack the underlying tissue and generate ulcers.

In the case of Leg Ulcers, when the skin cells break down this allows air and bacteria to get into the tissue below. When an ulcer appears on the leg, it’s tempting to apply dressings and creams, hoping the skin will grow back.

However, years of research have shown that the real root cause of the leg ulcer appearing is actually the underlying blood supply to the skin. That’s why, following The Whiteley Protocol®, we insist that successful treatment of ulcers (and the successful prevention of ulcers) must be directed at correcting problems with the underlying blood supply, and not in fact the ulcer itself.


What are leg ulcers - The Whiteley Clinic

Leg ulcers can be put into 3 main categories:

  • Venous – (caused by veins not working) – about 80% of leg ulcers
  • Arterial – (caused by the arteries not working) – about 15% of leg ulcers
  • Other Causes – about 5% of leg ulcers

Venous leg ulcers are the most common and are also the easiest to cure. However, please note that Specialist Vascular Surgeons, like the surgeons at The Whiteley Clinic, always check for other causes as well as arterial causes before treating Venous Leg Ulcers.

This is essential as many leg ulcers occur in older people and they may have more than one cause for their leg ulcers.