Stasis dermatitis is a skin condition commonly found in lower leg. It arises from chronic venous insufficiency. This skin problem develops when there is sluggish circulation of blood in the leg veins. As a result there is stasis or pooling of blood in the lower leg.
Built up of extracellular fluid in the lower leg over a period of time irritates the skin, resulting in rash, itching and other symptoms of dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis commonly occurs in middle aged and elderly persons. Women are more affected than men. History of deep vein thrombosis or presence of superficial varicose veins is the usual feature.
This chronic skin ailment is cured only when the underlying circulatory problem is addressed. The condition may require conservative management or in severe cases surgical intervention.
What Are The Causes Of Stasis Dermatitis?
The primary reason for stasis dermatitis is poor circulation of blood in the leg veins. The function of leg veins is to send blood from lower extremity to the heart. However when the veins of leg are at fault, inadequate blood reaches the heart. As a result more blood stagnates or pools in the lower leg. There is congestion of blood in the lower leg. Fluid and blood cells now leak out from the blood vessels into the skin and tissue space. The leg gets swollen. Skin is stretched and becomes thin and bumpy. Itching, scaling and rash follow.
Below are given factors responsible for stasis dermatitis.
- Varicose veins: In this condition the leg veins become thick and enlarged and tortuous. It results due to weak valves of the veins.
- History of deep vein thrombosis.
- History of doing work in standing position since long.
- Heart diseases such as congestive heart failure.
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic kidney failure
Symptoms Of Stasis Dermatitis
- The skin lesions of stasis dermatitis usually develop in the lower leg, near the ankle and slightly above it.
- It usually begins with itching, dry scaly skin on the inner side of the lower leg, just above the ankle.
- The skin on the affected area may become red and small red spots may develop.
- Due to accumulation of fluid in the lower leg, there is swelling.
- The skin becomes dark and thick after a period of time.
- Patient may complain of pain in lower legs.
- As the skin becomes thin, it may break on slightest pressure or scratching. Slowly ulcers develop in that area.
Treatment Options For Stasis Dermatitis
Since there are several types of dermatitis, it is necessary to identify stasis dermatitis, before starting the treatment. With detailed history and appearance of the lesion, doctors are able to determine the condition.
For a complete cure, stasis dermatitis needs to be treated in two ways. The underlying cause which is responsible for development of stasis dermatitis has to be treated. Secondly it is necessary to manage the symptoms that arise exclusively from stasis dermatitis.
Most often stasis dermatitis is caused due to varicose veins. Varicose vein surgery can cure the ulcer or skin lesion of stasis dermatitis. However, if patient is not prepared for surgery, other measures may also help to alleviate the symptoms.
- The patient is advised to keep his leg elevated as often as possible. It will reduce swelling in the leg and improve blood circulation.
- Ointments and creams consisting steroids are often prescribed. They reduce itching and inflammatory skin changes.
- Wear supportive elastic bandage or stockings in the affected leg throughout the day. This will reduce swelling and accelerate venous circulation upwards towards heart. It is valuable in conservative treatment of varicose veins.
- Patient should avoid scratching. He should trim his nails.
- Application of antibiotic ointment, if there is an infected ulcer. Patient may also need oral antibiotics.
- Avoid standing for long time.
- Apply aloe vera gel if there is too much of itching.