The most effective way to treat stasis dermatitis is by controlling the disease. This can be achieved by:
- Wearing a compression stocking, compression dressing reduces swelling.
- Keeping the legs elevated while sleeping.
- Applying topical corticosteroid to the areas of inflammation.
- Taking antibiotics or applying antibiotics to treat infections.
- Taking an antihistamine to calm the intense itching.
- Applying a moisturizer, which is free of dyes, fragrance, and perfumes, to moisten the dry skin.
- Removing a troublesome vein with a minimally invasive procedure, such as laser therapy.
- Losing excess weight.
- Avoiding foods high in sodium, such as chips, crackers and canned vegetables, and meats.
- Taking vitamin C supplements and following a diet to improve overall vein health.
- Drugs like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus have shown to be effective in stasis dermatitis.
What is stasis dermatitis?
Stasis dermatitis, also known as gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, or venous stasis dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It is caused because of the pooling of blood in the legs. Stasis dermatitis occurs due to poor blood flow, particularly in the lower limbs.
Who gets stasis dermatitis?
Stasis dermatitis typically affects middle-aged and elderly persons. It can be associated with
- History of deep vein thrombosis and cellulitis
- Varicose veins
- Venous ulcers
- Female gender
- Age over 50 years
- History of cellulitis in the affected leg
- Previous injury to the area
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure (a weakened heart that cannot pump blood effectively)
- Kidney failure
- Lack of exercise
- Prolonged sitting or standing job
What causes stasis dermatitis?
In the lower limbs, there is a muscle pump that pushes the blood toward the heart. This pump along with the veins (with valves) prevents the pooling of the blood in the lower limb. In case of valve damage or weakened valves, a back pressure develops, leading to the pooling of blood in the tissues (stasis). The pooling of blood can mediate an inflammatory reaction in the skin (dermatitis). This is often seen in deep vein thrombosis or varicose veins.
Stasis dermatitis can also be linked to a condition, in which the venous wall or valves in the leg veins do not work efficiently. This condition is known as venous insufficiency.
What are the signs and symptoms of stasis dermatitis?
Swelling around the ankle is the first sign of the stasis dermatitis. When the swelling starts, below symptoms may be noticed:
- Pain or heaviness in the leg while walking or standing for a long time
- Swelling that disappears when sleeping and re-appears during the day
- Varicose veins
- Itchy, dry skin
- Irritation, swelling of the skin
As the disease progresses, the following symptoms may be noticed:
- Swelling spreads from ankle to calf
- Dry, cracked, itchy skin
- Shiny skin
- Red to violet-colored open sores
- Sores leak fluid
- Sores can cause scars
If untreated, stasis dermatitis can worsen causing the following symptoms:
- The affected area feels hard
- Intensely itching skin
- Redness and scale cover the area
- Skin becomes deeply pigmented (dark in color)
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