A venous leg ulcer is a chronic (long lasting) sore that take more than 2 weeks to heal. They usually develop on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle.
If you have a venous leg ulcer, you may also have:
- swollen ankles (oedema)
- thinning or a shrinking of the lower calf with discolouration and darkening of the skin around the ulcer
- hardened skin around the ulcer, which may make your leg feel hard
- a heavy feeling in your legs
- aching or swelling in your legs
- red, flaky, scaly and itchy skin on your legs (varicose eczema)
- swollen and enlarged veins on your legs (varicose veins)
- an unpleasant and foul-smelling discharge from the ulcer
Signs of an infection
A venous leg ulcer can be prone to bacterial infection.
Symptoms of an infected leg ulcer can include:
- worsening pain
- a green or unpleasant discharge coming from the ulcer
- redness and swelling of the skin around the ulcer
- a high temperature (fever)
- an unpleasant smell coming from the ulcer
When to seek medical advice
Contact your GP if you think you have developed a venous leg ulcer. They're unlikely to get better on their own. They usually need specialist medical treatment.
You should also contact your GP if you have a venous leg ulcer and have symptoms that suggest it could be infected.
Read about treatment for leg ulcers
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE