You can help reduce your risk of developing a venous leg ulcer in several ways, such as wearing a compression stocking, losing weight and taking care of your skin.
People most at risk of developing a venous leg ulcer are those who have previously had a leg ulcer. Studies have shown there is a significant chance another could develop a few months or years after a previous ulcer heals.
If you have previously had a venous leg ulcer, or your GP thinks you may be at risk of developing one (for example, if they notice hardening of the skin on your legs, which often occurs after an ulcer), treatment with compression stockings may be recommended.
These stockings are specially designed to steadily squeeze your legs, which improves your circulation. They are usually tightest at the ankle and get gradually looser as they go further up your leg – this encourages blood to flow upwards, towards your heart.
To be most effective, these stockings need to be worn at all times when you are out of bed.
Compression stockings are available in a variety of different sizes, colours, styles and pressures. A nurse can help you find a stocking that fits correctly and that you can manage yourself. There are various accessories you can buy to help get the stockings on and off.
If you are obese, losing weight can help prevent venous leg ulcers. This is because excess weight leads to high pressure in the veins in your legs, which can damage your skin. Venous ulcers are much more common among people who are obese than in people of normal weight.
To help you lose weight, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week is recommended. You should also try to have a healthy, balanced diet.
If you are unable to do 150 minutes of exercise a week, you should aim for 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least three times a week. Walking is a great form of moderate intensity exercise, and you should avoid sitting or standing for long periods. Elevating your legs whenever possible can also help.
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