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Leg ulcers - What treatments work for leg ulcers?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

There are lots of different treatments for leg ulcers. If the first treatment you have doesn't work, there are others to try. Don't give up if it seems to take a long time. Most ulcers do heal up eventually.

Key points on treating leg ulcers

  • Firm bandages or stockings around your lower leg are the best treatment for leg ulcers. They are called compression bandages and stockings.

  • A simple non-stick dressing over your ulcer can help. We don't know if other types of dressings work any better.

  • You could try the medicinepentoxifylline (Trental) if your ulcer is slow to heal with compression bandages or stockings alone.

  • Wearing compression stockings can help to prevent you getting more ulcers in future.

  • There are some things you can do yourself to help your ulcer to heal, such as putting your feet up whenever you sit down, keeping active, and being careful not to bump or knock your legs. To learn more, see Self-help for leg ulcers.

We've divided our information into treatments to help leg ulcers heal, and treatments to prevent leg ulcers.

  • Treatments to heal leg ulcers

  • Treatments to prevent leg ulcers

Treatments to heal leg ulcers

We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works. You can use this information to talk to your doctor and decide which treatment is right for you.

  • Firm bandages called compression bandages work well to heal leg ulcers. Compression stockings can also help.

  • A medicine called pentoxifylline (brand name Trental) can help if the bandages don't work on their own.

  • If your ulcer won't heal with usual treatment, artificial skin grown in a laboratory might help.

Treatments to heal leg ulcers

Treatments that work Treatments that are likely to work Treatments that need further study Other treatments

Compression bandages and stockings work well to heal leg ulcers. But doctors are always looking for new treatments to help ulcers heal faster. Most are still being tested. Others are not available in the UK, are very specialised, or are inconvenient or painful to use. We've listed them separately because doctors and nurses hardly ever use these treatments. But you might have heard about them.

Treatments to prevent leg ulcers

We've looked at the best research and given a rating for each treatment according to how well it works. You can use this information to talk to your doctor and decide which treatment is right for you.

  • Wearing compression stockings is the best way to avoid another leg ulcer.

  • If you have varicose veins, an operation to treat them may help prevent another leg ulcer.

Treatments to prevent leg ulcers

Treatments that work Treatments that are likely to work

Citations

For references related to Leg ulcers click here.
Last Updated: March 13, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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