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woman putting lotion on legsPeople who suffer from varicose veins can experience leg pain, heaviness, swelling and tingling. The skin may also be affected, from minor itching and scaliness to a condition called varicose eczema.

Also known as stasis or gravitational eczema, studies suggest 20 percent of people over 70 encounter this side effect. What should you know about varicose eczema?

Causes of Varicose Eczema

The main cause of varicose eczema is a problem with blood flow. Our veins have one-way valves that help move blood from the legs up to the heart.

When pressure increases, blood can start to flow backward and pool in the legs, causing fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues. Our immune response to these fluids can result in varicose eczema.

Other factors include gender, age, obesity, pregnancy, deep vein thrombosis and poor circulation. Varicose eczema is more common in women than men and people over 50.

Symptoms of Varicose Eczema

This long-term skin condition starts at the ankle and, over time, moves up the calf and leg. Symptoms can fluctuate in severity and appearance. The warning signs include:

  • Dry, itchy and flaky skin
  • Skin discoloration
  • Swelling, particularly at night
  • Scaly sores that can weep

If varicose eczema is left untreated, several other serious conditions that may develop:

  • Lipodermatosclerosis: Inflammation of fat under the skin, causing it to harden.
  • Leg Ulcers: Chronic sores that develop inside the leg due to bacteria in the tissue.
  • Bacterial Infections: In the deep layers of the skin, may cause scabs and scarring.
  • Cellulitis: Skin infection that can spread through the leg.

Treatment Options

If you display varicose vein symptoms, a dermatologist may refer you to a vein specialist. At the Vein Centers of Connecticut, we will perform an ultrasound and recommend the best treatment option for you. To help prevent vein disease and varicose eczema:

  • Avoid prolonged standing
  • Exercise
  • Frequently elevate your legs
  • Keep your skin moisturized

You can also wear compression stockings. These elasticized garments gently squeeze the legs to help improve circulation and encourage blood flow to the heart.
To learn more about varicose vein causes, symptoms and treatments, contact us today!