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Unna Boot

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is an Unna boot?

An Unna boot is a compression dressing made by wrapping layers of gauze around your leg and foot. It is often used to protect an ulcer or open wound. The compression of the dressing helps improve blood flow in your lower leg. Compression also helps decrease swelling and pain. You may need to wear the boot for a few weeks or until your wound heals.

How is an Unna boot applied?

The boot is applied by a healthcare provider.

  • You will need to elevate your leg above your heart for about 20 minutes before the boot is applied. This will help decrease swelling in your lower leg.
  • Your wound will be covered with a layer of gauze that contains petroleum jelly.
  • Your healthcare provider will wrap your leg from the base of your toes up to your knee. The first layer is gauze that has been soaked in medicines and lotions to help your wound heal. One or 2 layers of dry gauze will then be applied. Your leg may also be wrapped in an elastic bandage.
  • The boot will become stiff as it dries. The boot will feel tight at first and begin to loosen slightly as you walk.
  • Your Unna boot will be changed at least once every 7 days. Your wound will be cleaned and measured to make sure it is healing with each boot change.

How can I help my wound heal?

  • Keep your boot dry. Ask how to cover it when you take a shower or bath.
  • Manage your health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Your wound may not heal or new wounds may form if your health conditions are not controlled. Take your medicines as directed. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions if you have high blood pressure. Check your blood sugar levels as directed if you have diabetes.
  • Walk daily to help the boot compress and improve blood flow. Ask your healthcare provider how long you should walk each day.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods to promote wound healing. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your boot feels very tight or loose after you walk.
  • Drainage from your wound soaks through the boot.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I remove the boot and seek immediate care?

  • Your leg itches and feels warm.
  • Your toes tingle, feel numb, or change color.
  • Your boot causes pain in your foot or leg when you walk.
  • You have swelling above or below your boot.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.