It’s common for skin to show signs of dryness in the the cooler winter months. As you moisturize your lower legs to combat the itchiness that often accompanies dry skin, take a look at the conditions surrounding the areas that itch.
Are your ankles showing signs of edema, the retention of fluid that causes conditions like puffiness and swelling? Does your skin have discolored patches at the site of the most intense itch? These might be signs of venous insufficiency causing stasis dermatitis. It could be a warning that vein disease is taking hold.
At MD Vein & Skin Specialists, we can examine and diagnose the causes of your itchy skin. As both a phlebologist and dermatologist, Dr. Clement Banda is uniquely qualified to treat these conditions and others that often show first on your lower legs.
Venous stasis dermatitis
Also known as varicose eczema, venous stasis dermatitis is a skin condition known for its itchiness during the early stages. Later, it can create open sores that are slow to heal. As the alternate name suggests, stasis dermatitis often combines with symptoms of varicose veins, the gnarled superficial blood vessels that also indicate problems with veins.
Veins contain valves that aid the one-way flow of blood back to the heart. The pumping action of the heart has little to no effect on blood in the veins, particularly in the legs, which work against gravity when you’re upright. Muscle contractions of the legs aid the valves by pushing blood forward.
Vein walls and valves endure pressure from the blood within. Age, hormonal activity, and lack of movement, among other causes, can lead to the failure of valves and increased blood pooling behind these failures. Inefficient circulation due to venous insufficiency can also lead to edema.
This edema fluid in the lower legs begin to irritate the skin, causing the characteristic itchiness of stasis dermatitis. One can also develop leg ulcers if the condition remains untreated.
You’re more likely to suffer from venous stasis dermatitis if you carry one or more risk factors for venous disease. These factors include:
- Getting older: veins and their valves can suffer from the wear and tear of time
- Gender: women are more likely to suffer venous insufficiency than men, due to hormonal events
- Pregnancy: the volume of blood in your body increases and can enlarge your veins
- Sitting or standing: holding one position without movement robs your legs of pumping action
- High body mass: carrying extra pounds increases the load on your veins
- Sedentary lifestyle: minimal activity encourages blood pooling
- A history of vein problems, including deep vein thrombosis
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney disease
There are genetic factors adding to the risk as well, so if varicose veins and itchy skin run in your family, you may be more prone to vein disease.
Pinpoint the reasons behind your leg symptoms with a visit to MD Vein & Skin Specialists in Columbia, Maryland. Book your consultation by phone or through the online link on this page today.