What is stasis dermatitis?
Stasis dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin in the lower legs caused by fluid buildup. This condition commonly develops in people who have poor circulation. As a result, stasis dermatitis often occurs in the lower legs, in one or both legs. The skin surface on the shins becomes itchy, thickened, and reddened, and may develop open sores.
Leg veins have one-way valves that play an important role in circulating blood. These valves push blood up the legs, but unfortunately, as we age, they will weaken and may stop working properly. When this occurs, some blood can leak out and pool in the legs.
What are the causes of stasis dermatitis?
Poor circulation in the lower legs can lead to this skin condition. Stasis dermatitis occurs mainly in older patients. Additional risk factors include:
- Venous insufficiency (your body has problems returning blood from your legs to your heart)
- Varicose veins
- High blood pressure
- A previous blood clot
- Many pregnancies
- Congestive heart failure or a different heart condition
- Being overweight
- Kidney failure
- Previous injury to the area
- Surgery to the area or removal of a vein from the area
If your risk is high, we encourage you to avoid standing or sitting for long periods, get plenty of exercise, and reduce some of your excess body fat.
What are the symptoms?
The first sign of stasis dermatitis is often swelling around the ankle. The swelling may clear up while you sleep but return during the day. Additional signs include varicose veins and discolored skin.
When the condition begins in the legs, you may notice the following in one or both legs:
- Swelling (often on the inside of the ankle)
- Aching or heaviness when you walk or stand for a long time
- Irritated skin, including redness, soreness, and swollenness
- Varicose veins
- Dry, itchy skin over the varicose veins
As the stasis dermatitis progresses, the swelling will spread beyond the ankle to the calf. You may also experience venous ulcers (red to violet-colored open sores), which appear on the lower legs and tops of the feet. These venous ulcers may leak fluid and scab & scar when they heal.
How is stasis dermatitis treated?
Prescription ointments are necessary when these symptoms develop. Prevention of this skin condition includes elevation of the legs when sitting or reclining, frequent walks or another exercise, a thick protective moisturizer, and compression stockings (which can be purchased at pharmacies).
If you have/had heart disease, surgery, or an injury to the area, please notify Dr. Naomi Brooks. Medical tests may be necessary to find out exactly why you have poor circulation in your legs.
Request a consultation in Meridian, Idaho
Your condition will need to be diagnosed by a dermatologist. When you schedule an appointment at Boise Dermatology & Medspa, Dr. Brooks will examine your skin and look for signs of stasis dermatitis. If you have this condition, she will create a treatment plan specifically for you. Contact Boise Dermatology online or by calling (208) 888-0660.