Venous leg ulcerSymptoms

Venous leg ulcers are open, often painful, sores in the skin that take more than 2 weeks to heal. They usually develop on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle.

Venous leg ulcers are open, often painful, sores in the skin 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)
  • 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 susceptible 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, as they usually require specialist medical treatment.

You should also contact your GP or leg ulcer specialist if you have been diagnosed with a venous leg ulcer and have symptoms that suggest it could be infected.

Find out how venous leg ulcers are treated

Page last reviewed: 11/01/2019
Next review due: 11/01/2022