An Unna Boot is a compression bandage that is applied by a healthcare provider to treat slow healing lower leg wounds and ulcers (commonly caused by venous stasis ulcers).
How Does Unna Boot Compression Therapy Work?
An Unna Boot is a gauze wrap that is soaked with a zinc oxide paste. The zinc oxide paste helps ease skin irritation and keep the area moist.
Typically placed on the leg from the base of the toes to just below the knee, the paste is then covered with a dry gauze wrap followed by an ace bandage. The wrap dries a few hours after application.
The Unna Boot has two functions that help wounds heal: the compression helps reduce swelling, while the medicated cream helps prevents drying.
While in an Unna Boot, You Should:
- Elevate your leg as much as possible, above the level of your heart
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
- Keep the Unna Boot dry
- Walk daily
- Continue any normal daily activities
- Put any objects into the boot to relieve itching
- Walk long distances until the Unna Boot is dry (3-4 hours)
- Wear a compression stocking over the Unna Boot (socks and shoes are okay)
- Get the boot wet in the shower or bath.
At Home Tips:
- Since the dressing is 3 layers thick, you may need to wear a slipper or a shoe that is larger than your normal size
- A plastic bag can be placed and taped over the leg when showering
How Often Should Unna Boots be Changed?
An Unna Boot can be left on for up to 7 days before it needs to be changed. Patients usually return to the clinic to have their boot changed once or twice per week until the wound or ulcer has healed.
At each clinic visit, the state of the wound will be assessed to determine if another Unna Boot needs to be applied.
Patients may need to use Unna Boots for a few weeks until their wound fully heals and stops draining. Usually, the Unna Boot needs to be applied multiple times until the patient can be transitioned to a dry compression wrap or graded compression stocking.
Unna Boot Complications
Along with the intended effects, some side effects of wearing Unna Boots may occur. Call your health care provider if you experience any of the following:
- New pain
- Numbness of the foot or toes
- Discoloration of the toes
- Cold toes
- Foul odor
- Hives, itching or skin rash
- Excessive drainage
- Unna Boot gets wet or soiled
What Happens After Unna Boot Therapy?
Once the wound has healed, we often perform vascular studies to determine if there are additional opportunities to help speed recovery.
Depending on your condition, we may help you consider modern vein treatments like Closurefast RFA, Venaseal and Varithena, which – when combined with a comprehensive treatment plan – can help wounds close quicker and stay closed for longer when indicated.
Have a Wound or Venous Stasis Ulcer that May Need Treatment?
At Inovia Vein Specialty Centers, we focus on managing issues related to venous insufficiency including venous stasis ulcers, varicose veins, DVTs and more.