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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.