As one of your body’s main powerhouses, veins keep your blood pumping and doing what it’s supposed to do. But veins can easily become damaged, blocked, or impaired. When this happens, it can cause a variety of issues with your health, such as venous stasis dermatitis. The Ultimate Vein Guide is here with everything you need to know about this common vein condition, from symptoms and testing to treatment options and prevention, to help you stay in control of your vein health!
What Is Venous Stasis Dermatitis?
Venous stasis dermatitis is a long-term condition that can cause a variety of health issues within the skin, such as itchiness, pain and inflammation, ulcers, and more. Left untreated, it can cause serious complications. Although venous stasis dermatitis is most commonly seen in the lower legs or extremities, it can occur anywhere in the body. It can also be referred to as venous eczema, varicose eczema, or simply stasis dermatitis.
Causes and Risk Factors
Venous stasis dermatitis occurs when an impairment or damage within one or more of your veins occurs and your blood cannot move smoothly from one location to the next. When your blood is blocked by this impairment, pressure and fluid begin to build up within the vein. As it continues to build up in the vein, some of the blood may excrete, or leak, beyond the walls of the vein and into the layers of your skin.
It is most often associated with malfunctioning valves, poor circulation, and other vein-related conditions such as venous stasis or insufficiency, varicose veins, and blood clots in the lower leg (DVT). Though venous stasis dermatitis can happen to anyone, there are people who may be at an increased risk for developing the condition. Some of the known factors that can increase the risk of developing venous stasis dermatitis include:
Gender: Women are more likely to experience the symptoms associated with not only venous stasis dermatitis but other vein-relation conditions as well. Women who have been pregnant or given birth are also more likely to experience this condition than those who have not.
Age: People over the age of 50 are more likely to suffer from most types of vein impairments and conditions. This can be associated with loss of elasticity and function of veins and valves over time, as well as other underlying medical problems.
Weight: Those who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience venous stasis dermatitis because when there is more weight, more pressure is put on the veins.
Health status and history: People with congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and kidney disease are at a higher risk of developing venous stasis dermatitis. You may also be at an increased risk if your family history includes conditions or problems related to blood circulation, or you have a history of vein-related problems yourself. Injuries and surgeries can also cause this condition.
Lifestyle: Those who exhibit certain lifestyle behaviors have an increased chance of suffering from venous stasis dermatitis. People who stand or sit for extended periods of time, don’t get sufficient exercise, and do not eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet fall within this category.
Since venous stasis dermatitis is caused by blood seeping through an impaired vein to the skin, the first and clearest symptoms are often noticeable to the naked eye. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, venous stasis dermatitis may be the culprit:
- The appearance of your skin becoming “thinner” (often associated with early-stage venous stasis dermatitis)
- Discoloration in specific areas of the skin
- One or more areas of the skin that are itchy or scaly, as well as irritated or sore
- Venous-insufficiency symptoms such as leg pain or tenderness and swelling
- Varicose or spider veins
- Swelling that may disappear and reappear with certain behaviors, as well as a feeling of “heaviness”
- Ulcers in the skin that may leak or cause scarring
- Contact dermatitis and cellulitis (in severe cases)
Diagnosing and Treating Venous Stasis Dermatitis
If you suspect you are experiencing venous stasis dermatitis, there are a variety of steps you can take.
Testing and Diagnosis
Since venous stasis dermatitis is caused by a problem with circulation, your medical team or physician will want to test and check for damaged veins, clots, and more. Though there are no blood tests for this particular condition, your doctor can perform tests on the function of your blood circulation, as well as imaging tests to spot blockages, impairments, and even clots. To diagnose venous stasis dermatitis, your medical team will gather your medical information and history, as well as perform a physical exam. The visual signs your doctor sees will be the most prominent factor in deciding the diagnosis.
After diagnosis, the severity of the condition of your veins must be determined in order to create a plan for treatment.
Treating Venous Stasis Dermatitis
Depending on the cause of your condition, your doctor may recommend you for vein surgery to repair the vein damage that is causing the problem. This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, which mostly depend on your specific diagnosis, the severity of the problem, the location of the vein impairment, and more.
As far as treating venous stasis dermatitis, your medical team will focus on treating your symptoms and preventing the condition from worsening. This can include medications, antibiotics, steroids, and more. Changes in lifestyle and behaviors may also be recommended as a course of treatment.
Treating venous stasis dermatitis means treating the symptoms and underlying vein complications. With proper treatment, veins can be repaired and symptoms eliminated or minimized. Without treatment, however, venous stasis dermatitis can cause infections like osteomyelitis and cellulitis, as well as wounds that won’t heal, abscesses, chronic ulcers, and more.
Prevention and Tips for Living With Venous Stasis Dermatitis
Alongside any surgeries, medications, or procedures recommended to treat any insufficiency in your veins, there are many things you can do to relieve the symptoms of venous stasis dermatitis, as well as prevent your problems with blood circulation from escalating any further.
Compression stockings are often recommended to people with vein-related complications and poor blood circulation. They are worn in order to relieve the swelling that is associated with venous stasis dermatitis, as well as to promote circulation. There are also specially-designed emollients and topical solutions that add moisture to your skin and protect it.
Nutrition and Exercise
Medical professionals may make recommendations to change certain behaviors that may be affecting your vein health. You can help prevent and treat this condition by adopting the following behaviors:
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding sitting or standing (staying stationary) for long periods of time
- Sleeping with your legs elevated
- Wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothes (aside from the recommended compression stockings)
- Taking good care of your skin by practicing proper, personal hygiene
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet that optimizes your vein health
The health of your veins begins with the proper prevention, communication, and treatment. If you believe you are at risk for any vein-related complications, it is essential that you seek the help you need! As your vein specialists, The Ultimate Vein Guide can help you take charge of your vein health! Begin your journey to better health by finding your Vein Score now!
Medically reviewed by Dr. Susanne Woloson on 5-01-2020.
- Stasis Dermatitis – American Academy of Dermatology – https://www.aad.org/public/
- What Is Venous Stasis Dermatitis? – WebMD – https://www.webmd.com/skin-
problems-and-treatments/ eczema/venous-stasis- dermatitis#1
- What Causes Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers? – Medical News Today – https://www.
- What Is Stasis Dermatitis? – Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/
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