It is estimated that venous leg ulcers affect 1–1.5% of the industrialised world's population. These can be painful, malodorous and debilitating to the person affected. In this paper we explore, through an analysis of the print media, how journalists translate medical knowledge into lay language and how they represent new directions in treatment. We also show how the term ‘leg ulcer’ is used as part of the description of vulnerable people at the edge of society, some whom are to be seen as needing our compassion, others as (morally) problematic. Finally, we show how stories around ‘leg ulcers’ are also used in relation to narratives around austerity in the UK and to show gaps in health and social care. We conclude that journalists, wound care researchers and health professionals should work together to inform the public and persons affected that leg ulceration can be successfully treated.