Venous stasis dermatitis, or varicose eczema, is a kind of skin disorder that can occur in people who also have varicose veins. Varicose veins are large, twisted, bulging veins that lie just below the surface of the skin and commonly appear in the legs and feet. It is always caused by underlying venous insufficiency.
People over 70 who struggle with varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, or who have had varicose vein surgery in the past, have the highest risk of developing venous stasis dermatitis.
Signs and symptoms of varicose statis dermatitis
Early varicose eczema symptoms may include:
- Itchy varicose veins
- Aching legs
- Shiny, red, discolored or inflamed skin around or above the ankles
- Ankle swelling that tends to worsen throughout the day
- Warm feeling in the legs although skin remains cool when you touch it
Moderate to severe symptoms often include:
- Itchy, red, blistered and crusty plaque on lower leg(s)
- Dry fissured and scaly plaque on lower leg(s)
- White, irregular scars surrounded by red spots on lower leg(s)
- Lipodermatosclerosis (pain, hardening of skin, change in skin color, swelling and tapering of the legs above the ankles)
If left untreated, severe venous eczema can lead to ulcers, which are much more difficult to treat and heal.
Causes of varicose statis dermatitis
Varicose eczema is usually caused by increased blood pressure in the veins due to damaged vein valves (tiny flaps inside the veins that help push blood back toward the heart). As pressure increases, the damaged vein can leak fluid and blood under the skin and cause inflammation and then eczema.
Venous statis dermatitis treatment
The key to effective varicose eczema treatment is keeping the skin moisturized. Here are common treatment options:
1. Self-help techniques
Avoid worsening eczema symptoms with these tips:
- Avoid injuring your skin, as it could increase your risk of developing an ulcer.
- Raise your legs above your heart while at rest to help reduce swelling.
- Stay physically active to improve circulation and maintain a healthy weight.
Apply a moisturizing ointment, cream or lotion directly to the skin to help reduce water loss. You may also cover it with a protective layer or bandage to help manage dry or scaly skin. Talk to your doctor to find out which type of emollient is right for you.
3. Topical corticosteroids
Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid to ease the itching, flaking, oozing and redness often associated with venous eczema. They are available in many different strengths, so talk to your doctor to find out which one is right for you.
4. Compression stockings
Medical compression stockings are specially designed to steadily squeeze your legs to improve circulation. This type of compression encourages blood to flow upward, toward your heart.
Virginia Vein Care specializes in a range of minimally invasive, state-of-the-art varicose vein treatment options. Visit a location near you and talk to one of our skilled vein care specialists about how to effectively manage the symptoms of varicose eczema with ongoing self-care and maintenance.