Stasis dermatitis affects many individuals, often causing discomfort and distress. While it might not be as widely recognized as some other skin issues, we see a lot of patients with the condition, especially those in our senior population.
What is Stasis Dermatitis?
Stasis dermatitis, also known as varicose eczema or venous stasis dermatitis, is a skin condition that usually affects the lower legs. It occurs when there is a problem with the blood flow in the veins, causing blood to pool in the legs. This pooling can lead to various symptoms, including itching, swelling, redness, and skin discoloration.
“Stasis dermatitis is a type of eczema or dermatitis that we typically see in our senior patients. Basically, in our veins we have valves that are like a V, and they block the blood from going backwards. As we age, those valves get a little bit incompetent and the blood backflows. And when those red blood cells filter into the skin and the body breaks that down, it causes the type of dermatitis that typically we’ll see on the lower legs,” explains Dr. Glenn Zellman.
Treatment Options for Stasis Dermatitis
Managing stasis dermatitis is essential to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with the condition. Fortunately, there are effective options available.
Compression Therapy: One of the most commonly prescribed treatments for stasis dermatitis is the use of compression stockings or bandages. These help to improve blood flow in the legs by applying pressure and preventing blood from pooling. “If patients are going to be out for long periods of time or on a long airplane flight, we’ll often recommend compression hose, because they push the blood back through the venous system,” Dr. Zellman explains.
Topical Medications: Your Arizona Dermatology dermatologist may recommend topical treatments like corticosteroid creams or ointments to reduce inflammation and itching due to stasis dermatitis. These can provide relief and help control the condition. “When stasis dermatitis is flaring, it’s going to be itchy and scaly and red,” Dr. Zellman says. “We’ll use our mainstay of eczema treatment which is the topical corticosteroid creams typically for two or three weeks to calm it down. And then once it’s under control, we’ll go back to our maintenance regimen where we’ll use a bland emollient such as Eucerin or CeraVe or Aquaphor on a daily basis.”
Elevating Your Legs: Simple lifestyle changes, such as elevating your legs whenever possible, can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Try to keep your legs elevated while sitting or lying down. “Patients need to keep their legs elevated, above the level of the heart as long as possible when they’re watching TV or reading or on the computer,” Dr. Zellman reiterates. “That helps to move the blood back through the veins; back into the circulation.”
Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also play a significant role in managing stasis dermatitis. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve overall circulation.
If you’re dealing with the discomfort and symptoms of stasis dermatitis, there are effective treatments and management techniques to help you sooth the itch and regain control of your skin health. Our dermatologists can help. Give us a call!