Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis, also known as venous stasis dermatitis, occurs in patients who have poor blood flow to the lower legs. Although it is possible for stasis dermatitis to occur in other parts of the body, it is considered rare.

Causes of Stasis Dermatitis

When blood valves in the leg become weak, blood sometimes leaks out and puddles in the legs. This poor circulation syndrome is known as venous insufficiency. The impaired blood flow can lead to stasis dermatitis, an often-chronic condition characterized by:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Scaly skin
  • Itching
  • Pain

Some individuals have a higher risk of developing venous stasis dermatitis, including:

  • Adults over age 50
  • Women, especially those who have experienced numerous pregnancies
  • Those with varicose veins or who have relatives with them
  • Anyone who has suffered a previous blood clot
  • Individuals with a history of injury to the area
  • Overweight individuals
  • Those with kidney failure or congestive heart failure
  • Patients with past surgery at the affected site
  • Those who don’t exercise
  • People who stand or sit for long periods of time

Signs and Symptoms of Stasis Dermatitis

Signs and symptoms of stasis dermatitis develop gradually, worsening over time. They include:

  • Heaviness or aching in the legs with standing or walking
  • Swelling that worsens throughout the day and resolves overnight
  • Varicose veins with dry skin over them
  • Red, hot, swollen or irritated skin

As the disease grows more severe, swelling spreads and open sores (venous ulcers) develop. Skin appears tight and shiny and scars form as ulcers heal.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Stasis Dermatitis

Your dermatologist will perform a skin examination and review your medical history before making a diagnosis of stasis dermatitis.

Blood tests, Doppler ultrasound, cardiac tests or allergy testing may also be performed to rule out other causes for your symptoms.

Treatment includes:

Reduction of swelling by wearing a compression stocking or dressing and elevating the affect leg for 15 minutes every 2 hours throughout the day and at night, while sleeping.

Topical medication may be prescribed including, corticosteroid ointment or a calcineurin inhibitor, and should be applied to affected areas

Oral antihistamines may help to relieve the itch and antibiotics may be ordered if infection develops.

Fragrance-free moisturizer should be applied multiple times a day.

Your dermatologist may also recommend surgical removal of varicose veins.

Handle skin with care and avoid rough towels or irritating cleansers.

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