A new spray-on skin treatment was found to be more effective in treating venous leg ulcers than compression bandages. Researchers found that patients given the new treatment recovered from the ulcer in about half the time taken by the usual treatment.

The patients receiving the spray-on skin treatment saw the reduction in the wound area in just seven days. The spray-on consists of different types of skin cells suspended in a mixture of blood clotting proteins.

The skin spray was tested on 228 people suffering from venous leg ulcers.

Venous leg ulcers occur due to improper functioning of venous valves in the legs. Treatments include compression bandages, skin grafts or using artificial skin. Skin grafts have known to be helpful in treating the wound but, skin needs to be taken from another part of the patient's body and this creates another wound.

"The treatment we tested in this study has the potential to vastly improve recovery times and overall recovery from leg ulcers, without the need for a skin graft. This means not only that the patient doesn't acquire a new wound where the graft is taken from, but also that the spray-on solution can be available as soon as required – skin grafts take a certain amount of time to prepare, which exposes the patient to further discomfort and risk of infection," said Dr. Herbert Slade of Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, lead author of the study.

Researchers say that treatments like compression bandages can be used in patients but, the new spray-on skin can help people who've had severe ulcers that don't respond to usual treatments.

"Even though compression is, and will remain, the basis of venous leg ulcer treatment, hard-to-heal ulcers do need additional therapy. In these wounds, prolonged futile, conservative treatment will increase costs without additional benefit. Therefore, the temporary higher costs for additional cell therapy can be justified as an investment in improved healing," said Dr. Matthias Augustine of the University Medical Centre in Hamburg, Germany, in a linked comment.

The same results may also be expected in patients suffering from wounds like diabetic foot ulcers, Augustine added.

The study was published in the journal The Lancet.