Brown Spots on Legs and Feet

Ken Langworthy RVT

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If you notice that you have brown spots on your lower legs, feet or ankles, you may want to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist. Brown discolorations or spots typically signify an underlying vein disorder, a disorder you may not even be aware of, that is getting worse.

Why Do I Have These Dark Brown Spots on My legs?

Vein disorders, including those pesky brown spots,  are caused by defective one-way valves. These valves are intended to keep your blood from flowing backward on its way back to your heart. When the valves fail, you have varicose veins.

Unfortunately, many people are told that symptoms of vein disorders are not a cause for concern unless they are causing difficulty or pain. Not true. A vein specialist can help you reduce your risk of future complications.

The Problem with Brown Spots 

Those brown spots matter. They could eventually affect the health of your skin. The brown spots are caused by blood leaking from diseased veins into the surrounding tissues.  Brown spots on your lower legs, ankles, and feet are typically an indication of venous stasis dermatitis, caused by venous insufficiency. This condition will usually progress. If venous stasis causes your spots, you may notice additional symptoms. Some of the more  common symptoms include:

  • Minor irritation or itching in the area your spots are located
  • Skin that appears thin or looks translucent
  • Hyperpigmentation, the affected areas could turn brown
  • Dermatitis, inflammation, and redness
  • Skin that has become hard, thick or leathery
  • Skin lesions or sores

As you can see, left untreated, those annoying brown spots with cause some serious concerns. Venous stasis dermatitis will leave your skin more prone to injury and infection. A small cut or abrasion could result in a nasty infection.

If you suspect that your brown spots may be caused chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), it is vital that you see a vein specialist. It is typical for non-vein specialists, a family doctor or dermatologist, to misdiagnose CVI. This condition is typically misdiagnosed as cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection. Treating cellulitis will not address the cause of your disease. They are not the same.

Treating The Cause of Your Brown Spots

The treatment of the vein disease affecting your skin is pretty straightforward. Your vein specialist will want to focus on the diseased blood vessels and restore your healthy circulation. The sooner your address the condition, the more comfortable the treatment will be. The most standard treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle adaptations including exercise and increased activity in the leg muscles every 30 minutes
  • Weight loss if needed
  • Medical grade compression stockings
  • Topical therapy for ulcerations
  • Antibiotics as is necessary for infection
  • Sclerotherapy to collapse the diseased vein so it can be scarred down
  • Endovenous thermal ablation that uses a laser close off diseased veins
  • Surgery (not as common)

The brown spots on your lower legs, ankles or feet could be much more than an annoying cosmetic issue. Brown spots on your ankles or lower legs could signify chronic venous insufficiency and lead to venous stasis dermatitis.  The fact that you see spots on your leg could indicate that your vein disorder is getting worse.

For more information about vein disease and treatment options for venous insufficiency, look through the remainder of the site. We can help you take control of the health of your veins, and help you find a vein doctor in your area.

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