Common Causes of Leg Sores
If you’ve ever suffered from leg sores, you understand how painful and embarrassing the experience can be. The recurrence of these sores often leave one feeling confused and frustrated at not knowing the cause, which makes it awfully difficult to prevent future “outbreaks”. We are going to talk about the three most common types of leg sores and cover a few ways that you can treat and prevent these from coming back.
One of the types of leg sore you could be suffering from is called a boil. Boils are nasty occurrences that seem to take ages to go away. A boil is technically a hair follicle which has become infected by bacteria—usually the staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This particular bacteria is always present on our skin, but sometimes it gets inside to areas where it really shouldn’t be.
For instance, when it gets into a hair follicle, oil, dirt, and even dead skin cells can trap the bacteria within the follicle. The bacteria are then free to spread within the area, which leads to inflammation. Redness, swelling, and a good deal of pain to the immediate area are the typical symptoms of this type of inflammation. Eventually the follicle will raise to produce a lump under the skin. As the white blood cells move to attack the bacteria, the top portion of the boil can turn a yellow or white-ish color.
At this point, many people believe the sore to be a pimple and simply try to pop it. Unfortunately, this is not what you want to do. Because the bacteria within is essentially staph, popping the boil can either force the bacteria deeper into the skin or it can force it outward causing it to spread to other areas of the body. This is especially true if the bacteria gets on one’s fingers and they fail to wash their hands afterwards. Boils usually go away on their own, and this is the recommended form of treatment that is least likely to see the recurrence of boils. A warm compress can be applied to the area of the boil to encourage it to drain naturally, but in severe cases a doctor may need to manually drain the area. The doctor may also recommend an antibiotic be taken to ensure that the staph bacteria are not able to spread further throughout the body.
The next on our list of leg sores is the pimple. Pimples are sores, and they certainly are annoying! In our minds, we have the tendency to associate pimple with the face, however pimples can occur anywhere on the body—even one’s legs. Pimples occur when dead skin cells or dirt become stuck together with the sebum oil that our skin naturally produces. This “gunk” can become trapped within the pores. As the skin continues to produce oil beneath this blockage, it builds up until the pore becomes swollen. Inflammation is soon to set in which leads to redness, pain, and additional swelling. As with the boil, the white blood cells rush in and this leads to a buildup of white-ish accumulation towards the top of the pimple.
Pimples on the legs can be prevented by cleansing the skin regularly, such as with a shower or bath. A good body scrub will help to lessen the accumulation of dead skin cells and reduce the occurrence of blockage. If you don’t have a body scrub or can’t find one in your local store, you can use a standard facial scrub or even make your own. To make your own, simply combine a mixture of milk and sugar until a thick paste forms. If the skin on your legs is dry, you can use olive oil or yogurt and coffee grounds, sugar, or salt. Apply the paste to the skin and gently work the mixture over the skin. Rinse away the paste and wash the skin as usual.
Leg ulcers are the last of the leg sores we are going to talk about. An ulcer is an open wound that has difficulty healing or which becomes a recurring affliction. Ulcers aren’t necessarily painful to all, although they can be for some. The area is often swollen, red, and can have an itchy or burning sensation. The skin surrounding the area may be slightly discolored, dry, or even scaly due to the skin’s inability to heal properly. There are many, many conditions which can cause ulcers to form, such as poor circulation, clotting disorders, diabetes, hypertension, anemia, high blood pressure, and even high cholesterol.
If the ulcers seem to be caused by an infection, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to help eradicate the bacteria. If the ulcers are likely to be caused by circulation, diabetes, or a blood pressure disorder, then supportive socks may be recommended. These garments add pressure to the skin to help aid circulation. Existing ulcers should be kept clean and have dressings applied and changed regularly to prevent irritation and infection of the skin. A healthy diet and drinking plenty of water wouldn’t go amiss, either—especially if one has diabetes. Exercise can also help to clear up and prevent ulcers as it aids the body in pumping blood to the lower extremities.
If you are unsure as to the type and cause of your leg sores, you may want to consider having your doctor conduct an examination of the sores. There are other possible causes that we have not discussed which may require urgent treatment. Your doctor will be able to advise you in the best form of treatment for your wounds as well as offer tips for preventing future occurrences.