An open sore on leg is an area of skin that is damaged below the knee. Sores or skin ulcers that are present for more than 6 weeks without healing are called non healing skin ulcers. They are often observed on legs as compared to other parts of body. These ulcers may be painful or without pain. The affected leg is swollen. One or both the legs may be affected.
When present on legs open sores are primarily found on the inner side of leg below the knee and above the ankle.The base of open sore may be red or brown and black in color. The border may be irregular in shape and the surrounding skin may be warm and hot to feel. There may be white watery discharge or thick yellow pus draining from the sore.
There are ranges of condition which can cause open sores on leg that do not heal easily. They primarily occur due to stagnation of venous blood, narrowing of artery affecting blood circulation or due to involvement of nerves in diseases such as diabetes and leprosy. Open sores on leg seen and attended in their early stage can be treated much more easily rather than those which become large after a period of time.
What Causes Open Sores On Legs?
Open sores on leg which do not heal are usually caused by vascular diseases, diabetes, certain infections such as leprosy, and skin cancer. Non healing open ulcers can be categorized into various types such as:
Pressure sores, vascular sores, diabetic sores, marjolin’s ulcer, ulcers due to infective organisms, pyoderma gangrenosum.
- Pressure sores in legs: Pressure sores develop in legs when the skin remains compressed for a long period of time. This leads to decrease in blood circulation and oxygen to the affected area, ultimately leading to tissue damage and formation of ulcers. Most pressure sores are found in lower limbs near the ankle and foot and on the buttocks. They occur in people who are confined to bed for long duration, or those who are unable to shift their position and having poor nutrition.
- Vascular diseases: Majority of open sores develop due to insufficient circulation in veins and arteries. Varicose veins accounts for 50 to 60 percent of open non healing sores. In this condition the valves in the veins of lower leg become weak. As a result blood begins to stagnate in the lower leg. It leads to swelling, pressure and ulcer formation as it becomes chronic condition. Usually sores due to venous insufficiency develop in the medial region of ankle and around the calf. It can also occur due to decreased circulation of blood in the arteries caused due to narrowing of the arteries. Smokers and elderly individuals are often prone to formation of non healing ulcers in lower limbs due to reduced flow in the arteries. A minor scratch or abrasion in leg can lead to non healing sores. Impaired blood circulation to the affected site will reduce the healing response due to lack of nutrition provided in the blood after an injury.
- Diabetes is one of the causes for sores in leg that is difficult to heal. The peripheral nerves in diabetes gets damaged which can trigger formation of ulcers especially in foot and in lower legs.
- Pyoderma gangrenosum are tiny sores in legs which are painful and filled with pus. They coalesce to form large sores in few days after their formation. It is immune disease which has its association with other inflame related diseases or occurs in people having low immunity.
- Skin cancer: It can also present with non healing sore on legs. Early diagnosis plays an important part in treating the condition. Any delay in treating the condition may require surgical procedure to treat the condition.
- Leprosy caused by mycobacterium bacteria also leads to open sores that do not heal easily.
Other deep skin fungal infections and antibiotic resistant staph infections are also known to cause non healing sores on legs.
Natural Treatment For Open Sores On Legs
The goal of treating non healing sores is to speed the recovery and heal the wound as fast as possible. Once the cause is confirmed, treatment is aimed at treating the cause. Here are some natural treatment measures besides conventional therapy for early healing of open sores.
- Avoid walking bare foot, especially diabetics and people suffering from leprosy should always wear shoes when they go out.
- Wear compression stocking if you are suffering from varicose veins.
- Stop smoking.
- Maintain healthy skin care of legs and feet. Keep the skin clean and dry. However, if it is extensively dry apply coconut or olive oil to prevent dryness.
- Keep your legs elevated while sleeping if you are suffering from varicose veins.
- Avoid cuts and bruises in lower extremities.
- Keep your blood sugar under control if you are diabetic.
- Open sores which do not heal easily respond well to calendula. Apply it regularly on the sores after cleaning it with warm water. It initiates healthy skin formation within few days of its application.
- Applying honey is also beneficial in healing of chronic open sores. Honey has natural quality to trigger healing of wound.
- Aloe vera gel is also beneficial in non healing open sores.
If the natural measures fail to treat the condition, more intensive conventional therapies may be necessary to treat non healing open sores.