Everything you need to know about varicose ezcema

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Varicose eczema (or stasis dermatitis) is a fairly common inflammatory skin disease which appears on the lower limbs and is a symptom of poor blood circulation (chronic venous insufficiency). It usually appears in middle-aged and older people and can lead to venous ulcers, as well as hardening and discolouration of the skin.

What is venous insufficiency?

Poor blood circulation is often related to age. Problems in the veins cause venous tension in the lower limbs, producing inflammation (varicose eczema). Inflammation is caused by the decrease in oxygen in the area that can cause skin damage.

What causes varicose eczema?

In many cases, before dermatitis appears, there is oedema (a build up of fluid) in the legs. There are risk factors which increase the likelihood of oedema such as congestive heart failure or arterial hypertension. If these conditions are treated, the chances of stasis dermatitis developing are decreased.

What are the symptoms of stasis dermatitis?

At first, small shiny lesions filled with fluid may appear on the surface of the skin with, and then the area becomes rough and flaky. At this stage, the skin is red, but after months or years, the skin can change to a brown colour and hardens. This condition is known as lipodermatoesclerosis.

How is varicose eczema diagnosed?

Normally, no complementary tests are used to diagnose varicose eczema. A test such as Doppler ultrasound to study the deep venous system may be performed to rule out processes such as thrombosis.

How is varicose eczema treated?

Treatment consists of reducing or limiting venous insufficiency with compression therapies. Such compression may be effected with the use of compression stockings or more sophisticated methods such as boots specifically designed for the purpose. It is very important the patient understands the importance of compression, as it significantly reduces the healing time. To control stasis dermatitis or eczema, topical corticosteroids are used, the strength and dosage must be decided by the specialist, who will study the risk-benefit balance and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

If you suffer from this condition you should see your GP who may refer you to a dermatologist.


By Topdoctors

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