What is Stasis Dermatitis?
Are you feeling weak? Does your skin look harsh, thin, discolored and do you have swollen legs? If yes, then there may be a condition that you are suffering from varicose eczema or stasis dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis is one of the types of eczema with a venous disorder. The venous insufficiency in your lower body part usually causes accumulation of blood in the veins of the legs. When the blood collects in the lower part of the body the pressure automatically increases in the veins of your legs and this increased pressure might damage the capillaries i.e small blood vessels. This will cause the proteins to leak into the tissues that will accumulate with blood vessels, fluid and proteins, thus causing swollen legs, feet, itchy skin and redness.
There may be another case when the fibrinogen protein leaks into your tissues and the body converts it in its active form called fibrin. This leakage allows fibrin to surround the blood capillaries forming fibrin cuffs that are basically known to prevent oxygen entering the tissues. Due to the oxygen insufficiency cells don’t receive enough oxygen and gets damaged.
Approximately 1% of the population is affected by the same condition, including pregnant women, middle-aged or elderly people. Stasis dermatitis can affect only one leg and is usually accompanied by varicose veins. The main reason behind the condition is the inadequate blood flow in the legs. The condition is also referred as Varicose eczema.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency
- Reddish brown patches
- Itchy/Irritated skin
- Skin discoloration
- Tightening of skin
- White shiny scars
- Thickening and darkening of skin in severe cases
You may also experience the symptoms of venous insufficiency that includes:
- Calf tenderness
- Calf pain
- Leg swelling
- Heaviness and ache in legs and becomes worse while standing
Try not to scratch your skin when it itches at the early stages as it may cause skin to crack and let the fluid seep out directly making the condition worse.
What are the causes of stasis dermatitis?
Basically, the condition affects people with the poor circulation of blood. The legs have valves that allow the blood to pump upwards towards the heart as the person grows older these valves weaken and the blood leak out and accumulate in the lower leg that causes swelling and a condition called as venous insufficiency. It develops stasis dermatitis.
It is common in adults over the age of 50 and who have or had the following:
- Kidney failure
- Varicose veins
- Blood clot
- High blood pressure
- Venous insufficiency
- Congestive heart failure
- Traumatic injury to the lower legs
Also, various lifestyle factors like standing/sitting for a long time period, lack of exercises, obesity, several pregnancies and prolonged periods of inactivity.
How is stasis dermatitis diagnosed?
The obvious thing to look for the condition is the positioning of the affected skin on the areas? See, is it on the bottom of the legs, and around the varicose veins? Is it itchy, inflamed and itchy?
Your doctor will physically examine the skin of the legs as the visible signs can indicate the condition and may suggest different tests. These tests may include:
The doppler ultrasound is the test that uses various sound waves to check the blood flow in the legs.
When to visit your doctor?
Don’t take the skin condition too lightly. Seek an immediate medical help in the cases like the swelling resists, itchy areas do not improve, redness persists and the open areas accompanied by pus.
How is Stasis Dermatitis treated?
The doctor will examine different causes and will suggest the following treatments:
- Compression stockings (specifically compression gradient stockings) are the saviors as it helps prevent and reduce the accumulation of blood in veins and promote a normal blood flow.
- Stronger corticosteroid creams for short time period. Medications like topic calcineurin inhibitor helps reduce skin redness, inflammation, pain and swelling.
- Oral antibiotics like flucloxacillin can be used in case of secondary infections.
- Antihistamine can be used to reduce intense itching.
- Emollients and moisturizers to be used to keep the skin moist, soft and smooth.
- Avoid scratching as it can worsen the skin condition.
- Antibiotics to be taken in case of erosions, ulcers, cellulitis and other infections. Large ulcers may need a skin graft.
- Surgery can remove varicose veins that lead to discomfort and pain.
- Protect the skin from any injury as this can result to infection.
- Avoid standing for too long periods.
- Go for regular walks.
- Horse chestnut extract proves to be beneficial for some patients with venous disease.
- Elevate your feet while sitting as to improve the blood circulation in the legs.
- Use bed lifters to elevate your feet of your bed overnight
- Try placing your feet on a body vibration plate that helps increase blood circulation in the legs.
Few herbal treatments to improve the skin condition:
In a few cases, natural herbal treatments may do wonders and can help soothe the pain and itchiness associated with the mild stasis dermatitis. Few of the herbs that may help to relieve the skin condition includes:
- Aloe vera
Herbal pastes like:
- Calamine lotion,
- Green clay with goldenseal root in equal parts,
- Salt, water, peppermint oil, and clay
With a proper skin care regime and a perfect medical guidance you can relieve the skin condition and lead a healthy life.