What is Stasis Dermatitis?
Stasis dermatitis is a skin condition that often affects the lower part of the legs and sometimes the ankles.
It is known by other names such as gravitational dermatitis, venous stasis dermatitis and venous eczema.
This condition occurs because of a problem with the blood circulation on the legs.
The poor blood flow causes pressure on the veins, which then leads to fluids leaking out of the veins and into the skin.
One of the symptoms associated with stasis dermatitis are swelling of the legs, especially around the ankles.
When a person suffers from this condition his legs and ankles can swell up during the day.
But oftentimes it calms down when the person is sleeping only to have it swell again the following day when the person is up and about.
Other symptoms associated with stasis dermatitis are redness of the skin, discolored skin, itchiness, leg ache and varicose veins.
When this condition worsens the symptoms that occur are: oozing fluid, infection, open areas on the skin, cellulitis, shiny skin and scars where the cracked skin (ulcers) healed.
When stasis dermatitis occurs for a long time, or it comes back frequently, there can be changes to the person’s skin that include:
- Lichenification – skin that has thickened due to frequent scratching
- Lipodermatosclerosis – occurrence of scar-like changes in the soft tissues and fat
- Atrophie blanche – occurrence of white scars with tiny capillaries surrounding it
People who might be suffering from stasis dermatitis should have their selves properly diagnosed because they are more prone to developing contact dermatitis.
What causes stasis dermatitis?
As mentioned earlier, stasis dermatitis occurs because of poor blood circulation in the legs.
According to statistics, women are more affected by this condition than men and people over 50 are the ones who are most affected by this.
People should look out for the following factors that could increase the risk of developing stasis dermatitis:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney failure
- Varicose veins
- Congestive heart failure
- Several pregnancies
- Blood clots in the veins in the legs
How to treat stasis dermatitis?
As soon as a person is diagnosed with stasis dermatitis the consulting physician might recommend surgery to have the veins in the patient’s legs be treated.
But despite this surgery doesn’t work for some people.
Aside from surgery people can relieve the condition by using pressure stockings or wraps, which will help prevent the fluid from seeping out of the skin and the soft tissues.
Some doctors would also recommend raising the legs at heart level every two hours and keep it up for at least 15 minutes to relieve the swelling.
Instead of working against gravity, patients will need to work with it in order to keep the blood flow in the legs working effectively, hence raising the legs.
Doctors will also recommend that people suffering from this condition should keep their legs at heart level while they are asleep.
If the patient already has open sores doctors will recommend the use of special dressings or bandages to treat the wounds.
An Unna boot can be used to treat this condition. The special gauze bandage consists of medications that can help cure the sores and the bandage itself can provide the right amount of pressure to prevent fluid buildup and keep those fluids inside the veins.
Tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel) can also be recommended by doctors if corticosteroids don’t work or have been used too long to treat stasis dermatitis.
Stasis dermatitis has a tendency to reoccur if the underlying conditions, which are damaged veins, have not been treated properly.