Stasis dermatitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the lower legs caused by blood and fluid stagnation. This means that veins are damaged, preventing normal blood flow. It largely occurs in people with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
With two offices in St. Louis, Missouri, Eric Mai, MD, and our team at STL Vein & Cosmetics specialize in treating vascular conditions that can lead to stasis dermatitis. Find out more about stasis dermatitis below, including five signs you may have it and how treating spider veins can help.
What is stasis dermatitis?
The major cause of stasis dermatitis is poor blood flow to the tissues, which occurs primarily in people who have CVI. This venous insufficiency manifests as a disrupted function of the venous valves. Specifically, the venous valves prevent the blood from flowing backward.
When this function is impaired, blood accumulates in the lower legs. The decreased blood circulation in the tissue causes inflammation that’s difficult to heal, also known as stasis dermatitis.
Stasis dermatitis eventually manifests as a chronic leg ulcer below the knee that does not heal within six weeks. Before the sore erupts, however, there are often signs of eczema and the skin appears thin and discolored.
Stasis dermatitis mainly affects women over 60 whose skin has become thinner and more easily damaged. When stasis dermatitis is left untreated, it can lead to complications.
Signs of stasis dermatitis
Here are five signs of stasis dermatitis to watch out for.
In the beginning, your skin will look red and flake easily. After several weeks, it can turn dark brown.
Sometimes open ulcers form, usually near the ankle. These ulcers provide an entry point for bacteria and can infect them.
Stasis dermatitis makes your skin red, scaly, and itchy, although it rarely causes pain. The ulcers, though, can be very painful.
If you have stasis dermatitis, your legs might feel swollen. Stasis dermatitis causes edema, which is swelling in the legs.
Varicose veins can occur, which are easily recognizable as bulging, thickened, and bluish veins.
The affected area usually has spots that appear blue, white, reddish-brown, or yellowish. The wounds are common in the ankle area. In most cases, they’re a sign of chronic high blood pressure.
Treating stasis dermatitis
Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. An important step is to support blood flow with the help of compression stockings. Elevating your legs can also help.
Dr. Mai might also recommend sclerotherapy to treat spider veins. This treatment method improves circulation by helping your body reroute blood through healthy veins. The vein and vascular experts at STL Vein & Cosmetics recommend a series of sclerotherapy treatments over a 2-3 month period.
Call STL Vein & Cosmetics for expert care of your spider veins and prevent stasis dermatitis. Or you can request an appointment online today.