Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational, or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs and is common in people with varicose veins. It’s a type of chronic eczema characterized by swelling, itching, and changes in the skin.

The condition is caused due to increased pressure in the veins of the legs, leading to a buildup of fluid in the lower legs, which results in swelling and inflammation. The skin can become dark, patchy, itchy, and may even crack or develop open sores if not treated properly.

Varicose eczema often affects older adults and is more common in people who are overweight or have deep vein thrombosis. Management usually consists of treating the underlying vein problem, using topical steroids to control the eczema, and frequent application of moisturizers to help protect the skin.

Varicose eczema

Causes of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins. The causes of varicose eczema include:

1. Poor Circulation: It primarily affects people with poor circulation, usually in the lower legs where blood doesn’t flow as efficiently from the leg veins back to the heart. This can cause blood to pool in the leg veins, leading to high blood pressure in these veins.

2. Varicose Veins: Varicose veins can develop as a result of this increased pressure, which can then increase the likelihood of developing varicose eczema.

3. Age: Age could also be a factor; it is more prevalent in older adults.

4. Obesity: Obesity can also contribute to the development of the disease due to increased pressure in the leg veins.

5. Damage to the lower leg: Any damage to your lower leg, such as a surgery or injury, can increase your risk of varicose eczema, since it could potentially affect the circulation of blood.

6. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Anyone with a history of DVT has an increased risk of developing varicose eczema, because DVT can damage the valves in your veins, leading to increased pressure.

Please note that while these factors contribute to the development of varicose eczema, not everyone with these conditions will get varicose eczema. It is advised to consult with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Risk Factors of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs and is common in people with varicose veins. Here are risk factors associated with it:

1. Age: This condition is more common in older adults due to years of pressure on their lower legs.

2. Sex: Women are more likely than men to develop varicose eczema, possibly due to hormonal factors such as menopause, pregnancy and taking the contraceptive pill.

3. Varicose Veins: People with varicose veins are at a higher risk. Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly. This can lead to blood collecting in your veins, which in turn may cause them to become swollen and enlarged.

4. Obesity: Being overweight can put extra pressure on your veins, increasing your risk of developing varicose veins and subsequently varicose eczema.

5. Family History: If close family members have varicose eczema or varicose veins, you might be more likely to get it.

6. Physical Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle can result in poor circulation, increasing the risk of varicose veins and varicose eczema.

7. Previous leg injury: If you had a leg injury, it might damage blood vessels in the leg and increase your risk.

8. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): People who have had DVT are more likely to develop varicose eczema as DVT can damage the valves in your veins.

Remember that while these factors may increase risk, they do not guarantee that an individual will develop varicose eczema. It’s always best to discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins. Here are some of the signs and symptoms you may identify:

1. Itching: The affected area on the lower legs may itch. This is often the first noticeable symptom.

2. Changes in skin color: The skin on the affected area may turn dark brown or purple. This happens because of the underlying varicose veins.

3. Swelling: The lower legs, especially the ankles, may swell, often worsening as the day progresses.

4. Dry and scaly skin: The skin in the affected area can become dry, scaly, or flaky.

5. Reddish, inflamed skin: Eczema might cause the skin to become red and inflamed. This could be due to irritation or an allergic reaction to the substance in the blood that’s leaking into the tissue.

6. Thickened skin: Over time, the skin might thicken.

7. Small, white scars: In a condition called atrophie blanche, small, white scars surrounded by areas of darkened skin may occur.

8. Varicose veins: This condition is often seen in people who already have varicose veins.

9. Skin ulcers: In advanced stages, varicose eczema can cause painful ulcers on the skin, which may ooze and can be hard to heal.

10. Pain or tenderness: There can be a sensation of heaviness, aching, or pain in the legs.

The symptoms of varicose eczema can be similar to other skin conditions, so it is always best to consult a healthcare professional for a full diagnosis and treatment options.

Diagnosis Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins or other issues that increase pressure in the legs.

The condition is caused by blood not flowing properly through the veins. This can happen as a result of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deep vein), obesity (which puts extra pressure on the veins), or simply increasing age, as veins can lose elasticity over time. Additionally, females or people with a family history of varicose veins may be more likely to develop the condition.

Symptoms often include itching, dry and flaky skin, brown discoloration of the skin, tight skin, and red, swollen, and painful skin inflammation. In severe cases, the skin may break down to form ulcers.

There isn’t a cure for varicose eczema, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and complications. This may include emollients (moisturisers), steroid creams, compressions stockings, and in severe cases, surgery on the affected veins. Regular gentle exercise to improve circulation, like walking, can also be beneficial.

As with all health issues, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for advice tailored to your personal circumstance.

Treatment of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins. Here’s a rundown of common treatments:

1. Moisturizers (Emollients): Applying a moisturizer or emollient regularly can help keep the skin soft and supple, relieve itching, and prevent cracking.

2. Steroid Cream or Ointment: A topical corticosteroid, such as hydrocortisone, can help reduce inflammation and redness. They are usually used in short courses due to risk of skin thinning with long term use.

3. Compression stockings: These can help improve blood flow in your legs, reduce swelling, and relieve symptoms of varicose eczema.

4. Antihistamines: For intense itching, your doctor may prescribe an over-the-counter or prescription strength antihistamine.

5. Antibiotics: If your eczema becomes infected, you may need a course of antibiotics.

6. Treating the underlying varicose veins: This can be done through surgery, endothermal ablation, sclerotherapy, or radiofrequency ablation.

7. Lifestyle changes: Good skin care, regular exercise, elevating the legs, maintaining a healthy weight, and not standing or sitting for long periods can help manage or prevent varicose eczema.

Remember, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and management of varicose eczema. The actual cause of the condition influences the treatment plan. The doctor will offer a personalised treatment plan which best suits your condition. Self-treating the condition can make the symptoms worse.

Medications commonly used for Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins. Several types of medication may be used to treat symptoms or prevent complications:

1. Topical Corticosteroids: These are creams or ointments that you apply to your skin. They can help to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms such as itching.

2. Emollients (Moisturizers): Varicose eczema can make your skin dry, which can increase the risk of skin cracks or splits. Regularly applying emollients or moisturisers can help to keep the skin supple and prevent these complications.

3. Antibiotics: If the skin is cracked or broken, it’s vulnerable to infections. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if they see signs of bacterial infection in the skin.

4. Compression Stockings: These are not a medication, but are commonly recommended to improve blood flow in the legs and reduce inflammation.

5. Antihistamines: These medications can help control itching and might be offered if varicose eczema is affecting your sleep or day-to-day life.

6. Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors: Topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, can be used to reduce inflammation yet are less likely than corticosteroids to cause skin thinning.

Remember, it’s important to visit your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options suitable for your individual case. Not all medications are appropriate for everyone.

Prevention of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, often affects the lower legs and is caused by poor circulation. To prevent varicose eczema, you may want to follow these steps:

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Overweight or obesity increase the pressure on your veins and can cause poor circulation, leading to varicose eczema. For this reason, exercising regularly and keeping a balanced diet could effectively prevent varicose eczema.

2. Elevate Your Legs: If possible, try to elevate your legs when you’re sitting or resting. This can prevent swelling and alleviate the symptoms of poor circulation.

3. Avoid Standing or Sitting for Long Periods: Try to change your position frequently throughout the day, especially if your job involves long periods of sitting or standing.

4. Compression Stockings: These special stockings enhance your blood circulation by applying pressure to your lower legs, thereby preventing varicose eczema. Wear them as prescribed by your doctor.

5. Avoid Tight Clothing: Clothing that is tight around the waist or legs can worsen poor circulation and potentially lead to varicose eczema.

6. Regular Exercise: Low-impact activities like swimming or cycling can improve your blood circulation and help prevent varicose eczema.

7. Healthy Skin Care: Keep your skin moisturized, avoid scratching, and protect your skin from injury as small wounds or dryness can worsen or trigger varicose eczema.

8. Regular Medical Exams: Regular check-ups with your GP or dermatologist can help identify any early signs of eczema or skin changes and provide suitable treatment as soon as possible.

Remember, these prevention methods can decrease the probability of developing varicose eczema, but it’s also crucial to consult with a healthcare provider for professional advice tailored to your personal condition.

FAQ’s about Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs and is common in people with varicose veins. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about this condition:

1. What is varicose eczema?
Varicose eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin on your lower legs to become swollen, itchy, and discolored.

2. Who is more likely to get varicose eczema?
Varicose eczema typically affects adults over the age of 50 and is more common in women than in men.

3. What causes varicose eczema?
It is often caused by increased pressure in the leg veins. When the small valves in the veins stop working properly, it becomes hard for blood to be pumped back to the heart and this can cause varicose veins.

4. What are the symptoms of varicose eczema?
Symptoms can include itching and discomfort, red/brown discolouration of the skin, skin hardening, small white scars, and, in severe cases, leg ulcers.

5. How is varicose eczema diagnosed?
A diagnosis is typically made based on the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. If needed, a Doppler ultrasound test could be performed to examine the blood flow in the veins of the legs.

6. What are the treatment options for varicose eczema?
Treatment usually focuses on easing symptoms and improving circulation. This may involve wearing compression stockings, using ointments and creams to ease itchiness, keeping the skin moisturized, and in some cases, surgery may be recommended.

7. Can varicose eczema be prevented?
While not entirely preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk including maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, avoiding standing or sitting for extended periods, and elevating the legs when resting.

8. Is varicose eczema contagious?
No, varicose eczema is not contagious. It is a circulatory issue and cannot be spread to others.

If you have or think you may have varicose eczema, please consult with a healthcare professional for the best course of treatment.

Useful links

Varicose eczema, also known as stasis dermatitis or venous eczema, is a skin condition that affects the lower legs of individuals with impaired circulation. People with varicose veins are particularly prone to this condition. Its symptoms commonly include swelling, itching, skin redness, dryness or flaking, open sores, and changes in skin color.

Here are some useful links to articles and studies about varicose eczema from various scientific and medical journals:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34883526/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37261990/

Before attempting any treatments, please consult with a healthcare professional. These articles are informative in nature and are not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Complications of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational, or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs and is common in people with varicose veins. It’s typically a chronic condition, which means it can be controlled but not completely cured. Here’s what you need to know about its complications:

1. Skin Ulceration: The primary complication of varicose eczema is skin ulceration. If the skin becomes very fragile, a minor injury might cause an ulcer.

Varicose Eczema

2. Skin Infection (Cellulitis): The damaged skin is more susceptible to bacterial infections. It can cause redness, pain, and swelling. If not treated promptly, this could become severe and potentially life-threatening.

3. Contact Dermatitis: This is a condition that can develop if you’re allergic to a topical medication or dressing used to treat varicose eczema.

4. Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS): In some cases, varicose eczema may arise as a consequence of a previous deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PTS can cause leg pain, swelling, and further skin changes such as brown pigmentation or ulceration.

5. Lipodermatosclerosis: This is a rare condition that can lead to hard and tight skin around the calves, and it can cause the legs to become tapered.

6. Lower Quality of Life: This condition can lead to significant discomfort, disfigurement, and interruption of daily activities, thereby affecting the quality of life.

In all cases, any signs of these complications should be promptly reported to a healthcare provider. An effective approach to managing these potential complications often involves a combination of good skincare, topical treatments, compression therapy, and possibly surgery for underlying venous disease.

Home remedies of Varicose eczema

Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs. It’s common in people with varicose veins. Varicose eczema usually results from increased pressure in the veins of your legs, causing the skin to become patchy, red, and itchy.

Before trying any home remedies, consulting a healthcare provider should always be the first step. However, some non-medical tips include:

1. Compression Stockings: Regularly wearing compression stockings can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow in your legs. They can also help reduce many varicose eczema symptoms.

2. Elevate your legs: Whenever you’re sitting or lying down, try to keep your legs elevated. This helps blood flow and can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

3. Skin Moisturization: Regular and consistent moisturization of your skin can prevent dryness and cracking. Ointments are generally more effective than creams.

4. Exercise: Regular exercise promotes blood circulation in the legs, which can help prevent varicose eczema.

5. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy weight and avoid standing or sitting for extended periods of time.

6. Wet wraps: These are bandages soaked in moisturizer or topical steroid creams then applied to the affected area.

Remember, the above are only home remedial measures. Varicose eczema can be a chronic condition and may require prescription medication and sometimes surgery. Always consult a healthcare provider regarding your symptoms for adequate and safe treatment is recommended.

WARNINGS:
Almost all medications can have side effects. If you have symptoms such as rash, difficulty breathing, light-headedness or swelling after applying a medication, seek medical help immediately.
If your symptoms get worse, if at-home treatment is not working, or if you are developing painful sores, red streaks, or pus, see a doctor. These could be signs of an infection.

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Last Update: January 12, 2024