Unna Boot Care

What is Unna Boot Care

An Unna boot is a type of bandage (dressing) for the foot and leg. The dressing is a gauze wrap that is soaked with a type of medicine called zinc oxide. The gauze may also include other lotions and medicines that help in wound healing, such as calamine. 

What are the conditon an Unna boot can treat?

  • Open sores (ulcers) on the foot, heel, or leg.
  • Swelling from disorders that affect the veins or lymphatic system (lymphedema).
  • Skin conditions such as chronic inflammation caused by poor blood flow (stasis dermatitis).

The dressing is applied by a health care provider. The gauze is wrapped around your lower extremity in several layers, usually starting at the toes and going upward to the knee. A dry outer wrap goes over the medicated wrap for support and compression.

Before applying the Unna boot, your health care provider will clean your leg and foot and may apply an antibiotic ointment. You may be asked to raise (elevate) your leg for a while to reduce swelling before the boot is applied. The boot will dry and harden after it is applied.

The boot may need to be changed or replaced about twice a week.

Follow these instructions at home:

Boot care

  • Wear the Unna boot as told by your health care provider.
  • You may need to wear a slipper or shoe over the boot that is one or two sizes larger than normal.
  • Daily check the skin around the boot. Discuss with your physician about any concerns.
  • Do not stick anything inside the boot to scratch your skin. Doing that increases your risk of infection.
  • Keep your Unna boot clean and dry.
  • Check every day for signs of infection. Check for:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain in your foot or toes.
    • Fluid or blood coming from the boot.
    • Any foul smell and pus from the boot.
  • Remove the boot and call your health care provider if you have signs of poor blood flow, such as:
    • Your toes tingle or become numb.
    • Your toes turn cold or turn blue or pale.
    • Your toes are more swollen or painful.
    • You are unable to move your toes.

Activity

  • You may walk with the boot once it has dried. Ask your health care provider how much walking is safe for you.
  • Keep moving and avoid sitting for prolonged hours. Get up to take short walks as told by your health care provider. This is important to improve blood flow.

Bathing

  • Do not take baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your health care provider approves. Ask your health care provider if you may take showers.
  • If your health care provider approves a bath or a shower, do not let the Unna boot get wet.
    • If you take a shower, cover the boot with a watertight covering.
    • If you take a bath, keep your leg with the boot out of the tub.

Instructions

  • Practice leg elevation above the level of your heart while you are sitting or lying down. This will decrease swelling.
  • Do not sit with your knee bent for long periods of time.
  • Only on the advise of your physician consume the over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
  • Avoid use of all the products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. These can delay healing. Discuss with your physician if you need any assistance in quitting smoking.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Consult your doctor when:

  • Your skin feels itchy inside the boot.
  • You have a burning sensation, a rash, or itchy, red, swollen areas of skin (hives) in the boot area.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You foresee any signs of infection, such as:
    • New redness, swelling, or pain.
    • More fluid or blood coming from the boot.
    • Foul smelling discharge and pus or a bad smell coming from the boot.
  • You have increased numbness or pain in your foot or toes.
  • You have any changes in skin color on your foot or toes, such as the skin turning blue or pale or developing patchy areas with spots.
  • Your boot has been damaged or feels like it is no longer fitting properly.

Here are some general guidelines for Unna boot care:

  1. Follow healthcare provider’s instructions: Always adhere to the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider regarding the application, duration, and care of the Unna boot. They will provide personalized recommendations based on your condition.
  2. Keep the Unna boot dry: It’s important to keep the Unna boot dry to prevent skin irritation and infection. Avoid getting the boot wet while bathing or showering. You may use a plastic bag or waterproof cover to protect the boot during these activities.
  3. Monitor for signs of infection: Regularly inspect the skin around the Unna boot for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, pain, or drainage. If you notice any concerning signs, contact your healthcare provider promptly.
  4. Avoid scratching or picking at the boot: Scratching or picking at the Unna boot can damage the dressing and compromise its effectiveness. It can also increase the risk of infection. If you experience itching or discomfort, consult your healthcare provider for appropriate management strategies.
  5. Follow recommended dressing change schedule: The Unna boot needs to be changed periodically based on your healthcare provider’s instructions. Follow the recommended schedule for changing the dressing to maintain its therapeutic benefits.
  6. Protect the Unna boot: Take care to protect the Unna boot from friction or trauma. Avoid wearing tight or restrictive footwear that may cause pressure on the boot. If necessary, use a soft bandage or padding to cushion the area and provide additional protection.
  7. Follow activity restrictions: Your healthcare provider may recommend certain activity restrictions while wearing the Unna boot. Follow their advice to prevent excessive stress or strain on the affected leg and to promote healing.
  8. Regular follow-up appointments: Attend scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor the progress of your condition and ensure proper care of the Unna boot. They can make any necessary adjustments or modifications based on your healing progress.

Take Home Points

  • An Unna boot is a type of bandage (dressing) system for the foot and leg.
  • The dressing is a gauze wrap that is soaked with a type of medicine (zinc oxide) to treat foot, heel, or leg ulcers, swelling from disorders that affect the veins or lymphatic system (lymphedema), and skin conditions caused by poor blood flow (stasis dermatitis).
  • This dressing is applied by a health care provider. After it is applied, the boot will dry and harden.
  • The boot may need to be changed or replaced about twice a week.
  • Let your health care provider know if you have any signs of poor blood flow or infection.
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