Stasis dermatitis, often known as varicose eczema, is a kind of eczema that affects people who have varicose veins. It occurs as a result of inadequate circulation. It commonly affects the lower legs, with sores developing as a result.
Other names for the same condition include gravitational dermatitis and venous eczema.
Adults are more likely to experience it, especially if they are overweight. According to studies, it affects 20% of people over the age of 70.
When blood flow in the lower legs is impaired, the valves in the veins weaken, allowing blood to leak into body tissues, stasis dermatitis develops.
This is known as venous insufficiency, and it can lead to the development of stasis dermatitis symptoms.
Initially, the symptoms will be felt in the ankles. There might be:
- Swelling that appears toward the end of the day and lessens after sleeping overnight
- Varicose veins covered with dry, itchy, or irritated skin
- Red, swollen, and painful skin, which may be weeping and crusty
- Heavy or aching legs when standing for a prolonged period
Other symptoms develop when the disorders go upward to the calf of the leg.
- Purple or red sores, or venous ulcers, on the lower legs and the tops of the feet
- Skin that is dry, cracked, shiny, and itchy
Sores that leak and crust become scaly on the skin. Bacterial infection and skin color changes are possible. Scabs and scars emerge when the wounds heal.
Eczema can affect other parts of the body in certain people.
If left untreated, the condition might deteriorate over time.
This can result in:
- Deeply pigmented skin
- Red and scaly skin in the affected area
- Intense itching in the skin
- Hard areas of thickened, fibrotic skin
- Shrinking of the lower part of the leg
The situation may then get much more complicated.
Bacterial infection can infiltrate the skin through the gaps and poor skin condition. Cellulitis can develop in the leg and spread throughout it. Cellulitis is an illness that affects the deeper tissues of the body.
The combination of the effects of stasis dermatitis on the skin and the usage of various drugs can make it exceedingly sensitive and painful to touch. Contact dermatitis is the medical term for this condition.
Risk factors and causes
Blood can be pushed upward toward the heart through valves in the legs. These valves fail as people age, allowing blood to flow out and pool in the lower leg, resulting in swelling and a condition known as venous insufficiency.
Blood leakage and cell death can result from these circulation issues, which can contribute to stasis dermatitis.
Those who have, or have had, the following conditions are at a higher risk:
- A blood clot, for example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Surgery to the area
- Kidney failure
- Venous insufficiency
- Varicose veins
- High blood pressure or a heart condition
The following are some lifestyle aspects to consider:
- Excess body fat
- A lack of exercise
- Standing or sitting for a long time, for example, at work
People who are overweight or obese, as well as women who have had many pregnancies, are at a higher risk. The veins in the legs are strained even more as a result of extra weight during pregnancy.
A physical examination will be performed by the doctor. The condition will be indicated by obvious signs and symptoms. They’ll inquire about the patient’s past medical history, including blood clots, surgery, heart disease, and previous damage to the afflicted area.
Tests may be performed to determine the cause of poor circulation.
These may include the following:
- Heart function tests
- Ultrasound to detect any blood flow problems
- Blood tests
Because a person with stasis dermatitis is more likely to develop a skin allergy, allergy testing may be performed.
Treatment will focus on relieving the symptoms.
- Swelling can be reduced and circulation improved by compression stockings or dressings. The patient’s legs should likewise be lifted above the level of their heart.
- Raising the legs can be beneficial. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that patients elevate their legs for 15 minutes every 2 hours and sleep with them propped up on a pillow.
- To minimize inflammation, including redness, swelling, and discomfort, a corticosteroid or a topic calcineurin inhibitor (TCI) may be administered.
- Special dressings may be required for ulcers or weeping sores. The dressing must be changed every 2 to 3 days at first, but after that, once or twice a week will enough.
- Cellulitis, erosions and ulcers, and other forms of infection will necessitate the use of antibiotics. A skin graft may be required for a big ulcer.
- Itching can be relieved with antihistamines.
- Moisturizers and emollients can aid in the prevention of dry skin. The ADD suggests using petroleum jelly or a thick lotion that says “fragrance free” on the label. Options might be discussed with a doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist.
- Varicose veins, which cause pain, irritation, and ulcers, can be removed by surgery.
If your skin gets discolored, a dermatologist can help you find ways to lighten it.
Management and prevention
The majority of people who have stasis dermatitis will have it for the remainder of their lives.
The following steps are included in the treatment of the condition:
- Using medication for skin care and when symptoms flare up
- Keeping the legs raised when possible
- Using compression stockings
Stasis dermatitis may be avoided by taking care of the legs.
Among the measures are:
- Avoiding bath products and soaps that dry the skin
- Using emollients or moisturizers to keep the skin supple
- Not standing or sitting for prolonged periods
Stasis dermatitis and a variety of other illnesses can be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a well-balanced diet.