LegHealth Campaign

Looking after your legs is a crucial part of securing a healthier future. That's why Activa has joined forces with television presenter and vice-president of The Patients’ Association - Angela Rippon, to bring you the LegHealth Campaign.

The LegHealth Campaign aims to raise awareness of the various conditions that can affect our legs. From the very common and easy to improve - such as tired aching legs, to more serious leg wounds that require the help of a healthcare professional.

Many leg conditions are caused by poor circulation in the leg veins. These veins have the uphill task of taking blood back to the heart and as such can weaken as gravity takes its toll over time. Happily, even serious leg problems respond well to treatment. If you are at all concerned about any leg conditions, contact a healthcare professional.

View Angela's top 10 tips Condition identifier

Venous flow

Good blood flow is vital to keeping your skin and tissue healthy. Tiny valves inside our veins open and close to ensure blood is moving around the body in the right direction. If these valves become damaged, this can drastically reduce their ability to stop the blood flowing backwards. This backflow of blood is what leads to conditions such as swelling or varicose veins.

What does this look like?

1. Movement causes muscles in the legs and feet to contract and relax.
2. When the muscles contract valves inside the veins open causing blood to flow towards the heart.
3. When the muscles relax the valves close preventing back flow of the blood.
1. Movement causes muscles in the legs and feet to contract and relax.
2. Valves inside the veins open causing blood to flow towards the heart.
3. Damaged valves allow back flow of blood and cause swelling of the leg.
1. Compression hosiery helps to support the muscles during contraction and relaxation.
2. Vein walls are pushed closer together allowing damaged valves to operate correctly.
3. When the muscles relax the valves close fully preventing back flow of the blood.

Leg condition identifier

Spider and superficial veins Spider and superficial veins

Spider and superficial veins

Symptoms

A web of thread like veins visible on the surface of the skin, which are not painful.

Causes

The pressure of blood flowing backwards widens the blood vessels, making them visible to the eye below the skin.

Advice

Spider veins are not serious, but can be the first sign your leg veins are not always working efficiently. Consider wearing graduated compression hosiery to prevent more serious conditions.

Treatment

Keep active and maintain a healthy weight. As compression hosiery assists blood flow up the legs and prevents backflow and pooling, consider wearing Activa Class 1 British Standard compression hosiery - available in plain colours, ribbed and patterned socks.

Spider and superficial veins

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Tired aching legs Tired aching legs

Tired aching legs

Symptoms

Legs feel heavy and ache at the end of the day or when you’ve been standing for a while. The tired, heavy feeling is often relieved by putting your feet up.

Causes

Heavy and aching legs can be a sign that the leg veins are allowing blood to flow backwards and pool, instead of traveling upwards towards your heart. This is often caused by sitting or standing for long periods.

Advice

If your legs are also swollen, see your nurse or GP. Legs can swell for a range of reasons, and it is therefore important to have them assessed by a professional.

Treatment

Activa British Standard Class 1 compression hosiery can help the flow of blood upwards towards the heart, making legs feel lighter and ache free. Try the simple leg exercises designed to help your circulation.

Tired aching legs

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Swollen ankles Swollen ankles

Swollen ankles

Symptoms

Legs and ankles fill with excess fluid, making them look puffy, and the skin may feel tighter. Often swelling only becomes evident as the day progresses and often makes the legs and ankles feel uncomfortable.

Causes

Mild swelling is caused by fluid accumulating in the legs and ankles. It can be caused by standing or remaining still for long periods, constriction from clothing and poor circulation. Mild swelling often improves by putting your legs up.

Advice

As legs can swell for a range of reasons, always see your nurse or GP who will diagnose the cause and give appropriate advice.

Treatment

If the swelling is caused by poor circulation in your veins, then compression hosiery can be very effective at pushing the excess fluid back into your blood stream. Keeping legs active and maintaining a healthy weight will help. Remember that leg exercises still work at keeping your blood moving, even when exercising sitting down!

Swollen ankles
Mild / moderate varicose veins Mild / moderate varicose veins

Mild / moderate varicose veins

Symptoms

Leg veins become much more visible and can be seen above the skin. They look blue/purple in colour. The veins or the entire leg may ache, itch or feel heavy. The bulging veins feel tender to the touch.

Causes

The pressure from blood flowing backwards and pooling causes veins to bulge. Veins have valves to help the blood flow back to the heart. The one-way valves in the veins may also become damaged, causing the veins to stretch even more. Varicose veins are often hereditary. Certain factors increase the risk of varicose veins such as pregnancy, having a job which involves lots of standing, injuring your legs, being overweight and, as we age, veins become less elastic.

Advice

If your legs are also swollen, see your Nurse or GP - who may advise you to wear the type of compression hosiery which helps reduce swelling as well as assisting blood flow. Try not to knock your legs and, if you have any wounds or sores, have them checked over by a healthcare professional.

Treatment

Activa British Standard Class 2 compression hosiery will protect your legs and help prevent the condition becoming worse. Healthcare professionals may prescribe ActiLymph hosiery if the legs are swollen.

Mild / moderate varicose veins

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Ankle flare Ankle flare

Ankle flare

Symptoms

A collection of tiny veins giving a reddish tone to the skin, which fade when pressed by a finger.

Causes

The leg veins work against gravity to return blood upwards to the heart. Ankle flare results when the veins are not working as efficiently as they should and blood is pooling and stretching the blood vessels around the ankle.

Advice

If your legs are also swollen then see your Nurse or GP, who may advise you to wear the type of compression hosiery which reduces swelling as well as assisting blood flow. Try not to knock your legs and if you have any wounds which appear not to be healing, have them checked over by a healthcare professional.

Treatment

Activa British Standard Class 2 compression hosiery works to push blood up the leg. A healthcare professional may prescribe ActiLymph hosiery if there is swelling in the legs.

Ankle flare

Daylong logoActiva work with our trusted partners Daylong. When purchasing an Activa product you will be taken to the Daylong website.

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Mild hyperkeratosis Mild hyperkeratosis

Mild hyperkeratosis

Symptoms

Thickening of the top layer of the skin gives a scaly appearance. The flaky skin can be prone to infections and feel itchy.

Causes

Poor circulation can lead to the skin showing signs of irritation, dehydration and over production of skin cells.

Advice

See your nurse or GP - who will discuss skin and leg care with you.

Treatment

Good skin hygiene is important, combined with regular use of a suitable moisturiser.

Mild hyperkeratosis
Hyperpigmentation / staining Hyperpigmentation / staining

Hyperpigmentation / staining

Symptoms

The skin has red/brown discolouration. It is not painful, but can be unsightly.

Causes

Long term backflow of blood in the veins can cause red blood cells to leak into the skin, which causes a permanent brownish/red staining. This is a sign of circulatory problems.

Advice

See your GP. If you knock the stained area, any wound there may be hard to heal, so keep an eye on your legs for any non healing wounds/sores.

Treatment

Activa British Standard Class 2 compression hosiery will assist blood flow back to the heart.

Hyperpigmentation / staining
Venous dermatitis / varicose eczema Venous dermatitis / varicose eczema

Venous dermatitis / varicose eczema

Symptoms

Red and itchy skin, which may be worsened by a reaction to certain moisturisers or washing products.

Causes

Poor circulation and/or irritation from moisturisers.

Advice

Very dry, flaky skin on your legs can be caused by poor venous return – and Activa compression hosiery can help with this problem.

Treatment

See your GP, who will assess your legs and recommend the appropriate treatments.

Venous dermatitis / varicose eczema
Severe varicose veins Severe varicose veins

Severe varicose veins

Symptoms

These are overstretched, bulging veins caused by the backflow of venous blood, frequently painful and, if knocked, may cause a wound which is hard to heal.

Causes

The pressure from blood flowing backwards and pooling causes veins to bulge. Veins have valves to help the flow back to the heart. The one way valves in the veins may also become damaged, causing the veins to stretch even more. Pregnancy, being overweight, and standing for long periods also increases the likelihood of varicose veins, or they could be hereditary.

Advice

By visiting your GP or Nurse you can prevent the condition worsening and reduce the chances of getting a hard to heal leg wound (leg ulcer).

Treatment

Visit your nurse or GP who may recommend Activa compression hosiery and/or surgical treatment.

Severe varicose veins
Leg ulcer Leg ulcer

Leg ulcer

Symptoms

A leg ulcer is an open wound below the knee or on the foot which fails to heal after several weeks. It is unlikely to get better without treatment from a nurse or GP.

Causes

Poor circulation prevents wounds healing as quickly as they should. This can be the blood in your leg veins not returning to the heart efficiently, or arterial blood from your heart not reaching the wound as well as it should, or a mixture of both. If you have diabetes or rheumatoid disease you may be at increased risk of a leg ulcer.

Advice

If you have a wound on your leg which is not healing after several weeks, see your nurse or GP immediately. The sooner a wound is treated the better.

Treatment

The most common sort of leg ulcer is a venous leg ulcer. This type responds very well to compression therapy, either in the form of bandages or hosiery. Once the ulcer has been healed, the long term wearing of compression hosiery makes the chance of it returning much less likely.

Leg ulcer
Long-standing swollen legs (Chronic Oedema) Long-standing swollen legs (Chronic Oedema)

Long-standing swollen legs (Chronic Oedema)

Symptoms

Chronic oedema is swelling or puffiness in the ankles or legs which has lasted for more than 3 months. The swelling does not improve when you put your legs up. The skin may feel harder and thicker.

Causes

There are many causes, but a common one is sitting still for long periods of time. The medical term is ‘dependency oedema’.

Another cause is ‘lymphovenous disease’ - poor circulation in the veins back to your heart.

A condition called ‘lymphoedema’ can cause swelling anywhere in the body. Lymphoedema occurs when the lymphatic system is not working properly.

Advice

As legs can swell for a range of reasons - see your nurse or GP, who will diagnose the cause and give appropriate advice.

Treatment

Compression therapy, either bandages or hosiery such as ActiLymph, works quickly and effectively if the swelling is caused by poor venous blood flow back to the heart.

Long-standing swollen legs (Chronic Oedema)

Top 10 tips for healthy legs

Leg problems are very common, and while we may worry about the appearance of a pronounced leg vein, we aren't aware of the wider health implications. Pronounced veins or aching legs can, if left untreated, lead to more serious problems such as varicose veins, swollen legs and ankles or even leg ulcers. The LegHealth Campaign has a clear message: if we take action now we can help to safeguard the future health of our legs.”

Angela Rippon

  1. -

    Walk and exercise regularly

  2. -

    Eat a balanced diet and watch your weight

  3. -

    Examine your feet and legs regularly, and get treatment for any knocks or sores – particularly if you have diabetes

  4. -

    Regularly moisturise the skin on your legs

  5. -

    Try to stop smoking, as smoking can lead to circulatory problems in your legs

  6. -

    Keep moving - try not to stand or sit for long periods

  7. -

    If you have been advised to wear compression hosiery then it is important to wear it - ideally every day

  8. -

    Put your feet up!

  9. -

    Do not cross your legs for long periods

  10. -

    Try these leg exercises to improve your circulation

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a health care professional. Consumers should rely on the judgement of a health care professional for specific conditions.
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