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What Are Leg Ulcers?

Leg ulcers form when skin on your leg breaks open. These breaks or sores let air and bacteria travel into your skin’s tissue. For most people, leg ulcers will heal on their own and won’t need medical treatment. But some people may need specialized treatment if their skin doesn’t heal as easily.

Causes of Leg Ulcers

Leg ulcers are caused by many conditions including:

  • problems with the blood vessels,
  • inflammation of blood vessels,
  • diabetes,
  • infections and medications, and
  • other medical diseases.

What Is Pyoderma Gangrenosum?

Pyoderma gangrenosum is a rare condition where inflammation in your skin causes large leg ulcers (or sores). These ulcers can grow quickly, are very painful, and may get worse over time.

At first, ulcers in the legs will look like tiny bug bites. Over time, they will get bigger and more swollen and may form an inflamed rash on your skin.

If left untreated, pyoderma gangrenosum can cause more serious problems including:

  • chronic (long-lasting) pain,
  • depression,
  • scarring,
  • infection, and
  • loss of movement in your legs.

If you have painful ulcers in your legs that aren’t healing, you should see a dermatologist or vascular surgeon.

What Causes Pyoderma Gangrenosum?

Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes pyoderma gangrenosum, but researchers think that problems with the immune system cause the tissues in your legs to become weak. People who have rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease have a higher chance of developing pyoderma gangrenosum.

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