Pentoxifylline for venous skin ulcers

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Pentoxifylline for venous skin ulcers


Generic NameBrand Name
pentoxifyllinePentoxil, Trental

How It Works

Combined with standard treatment with compression stockings, oral pentoxifylline is used to improve venous skin ulcer healing. Pentoxifylline reduces the viscosity or "stickiness" of your blood, improving blood circulation. Pentoxifylline also reduces inflammation in the body, which may help ulcers heal as well.

Why It Is Used

Large venous skin ulcers are often resistant to healing. Pentoxifylline may speed healing in these ulcers when used with compression stockings.

How Well It Works

Pentoxifylline may help speed healing of venous skin ulcers when it is used along with compression treatment.1

Side Effects

Minor gastrointestinal side effects can result form pentoxifylline use, including:

  • Slight nausea.
  • Indigestion.
  • Diarrhea.

On rare occasions, chest pain, dizziness, and headache have been reported as side effects of pentoxifylline.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Pentoxifylline is considered to be a safe medicine, with no severe side effects.

Reasons not to take high doses of pentoxifylline

The high doses that have been used to successfully treat venous skin ulcers are not safe for people with poor kidney function. If you have poor kidney function, pentoxifylline can build up to toxic levels in your body.

Pentoxifylline is not safe for people with recent bleeding problems, particularly stroke caused by sudden bleeding or bleeding at the retina, part of the eye.

If you have had past problems with pentoxifylline, caffeine, or a similar medicine (such as theophylline), this medicine is not a safe treatment option for you.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Nelson EA, Jones J (2008). Venous leg ulcers, search date September 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence:


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Margaret Doucette, DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised November 6, 2009

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