The impact of venous leg ulcers on patient quality of life
New Wounds International article focuses on the impact of venous leg ulcers on patient quality of life and looks at considerations for dressings selection
Venous leg ulcers (VLUs) are common wounds that can deeply affect patient quality of life. Although challenging to healthcare systems due to their chronic, hard-to-heal nature, VLUs and their side effects, such as exudate and potential leakage, also cause distress and embarrassment for patients.
It’s important to note, though, that VLU treatment is changing, and the outlook is looking up. There are considerations and interventions to help raise the bar on VLU care and minimise the burden to both the system and patients.
Focusing on more effective wound management for better patient quality of life
With VLUs, patients face longer and atypical healing journeys, high levels of wound exudate (which can lead to embarrassing leakage, skin maceration and odours as well as immobility and social isolation), pain, and more. The high rate of recurrence (50-70%) can lead to longer term psychosocial effects, such as depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, and a decreased health-related quality of life.
Daily life for patients living with highly exuding wounds like VLUs poses many challenges that largely stem from issues with exudate. Many patients find that they worry about exudate leakage, with its soiled garments and medical devices, unpleasant odours, an unappealing visual appearance. The resulting embarrassment and distress may keep patients from living their fullest lives. More longer-term concerns include the increased risk of infection, discomfort, skin damage around the wound from leakage and maceration, the potential for the wound to expand, and pain.
This collection of side effects can be negatively life changing, manifesting in all manner of ways, including self-isolation, distress and depression. Quality of life is an ongoing concern for patients with VLUs, and should also be a bigger focus for healthcare providers.
Considerations for VLU management: Quality of life improvements
How can quality of life be better addressed through more effective VLU management?
A new article in Wounds International, co-written by Dot Weir, RN, Saratoga Hospital Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine and Mölnlycke’s Global Senior Medical Affairs Manager, Phil Davies, addresses the considerations for care as well as how dressing selection plays an important role not only in wound healing but in giving patients back their quality of life.
The article advocates for improved treatment and care in some detail, focusing on areas such as managing chronic venous insufficiency and venous hypertension with compression therapy as the “gold standard” of conservative treatment.
At the same time, the holistic approach to VLU care advocates for careful exudate management to avoid not just the physical side effects of exudative wounds and leakage but also the psychological ones – such as the worry, embarrassment and loss of self-esteem that patients report experiencing.
Dressing selection is another key consideration in the VLU management journey. Appropriate dressings can perform in conjunction with compression therapy while also managing exudate to prevent embarrasing leakage and further impact to skin, minimising dressing-related pain and trauma, and avoiding unnecessary dressing changes, all of which contribute to a better quality of care, an improved quality of life and restore patient confidence.
Read the full article to learn more. The article is featured in Wounds International and can be read in full here