Skin changes are part of the aging process, but it doesn’t mean that you can dismiss all skin conditions as part of getting older. In some situations, your skin color may provide clues about your overall health.
Because of their location as the farthest point from your heart, your ankles and lower legs are often the first place that circulation problems create symptoms. Not only are these extremities at the greatest distance from the heart and lungs, your body is often fighting gravity as it pushes blood upward from these outer regions. When veins start to fail, your skin may suffer too.
As both a phlebologist and dermatologist, Dr. Clement Banda of MD Vein and Skin Specialists is ideally suited to help you with a condition called stasis dermatitis, which can cause discoloration around your ankles that’s not a normal part of aging. It could be the first sign of serious issues yet to come.
When veins start to fail
Before discoloration starts, you probably noticed swelling in your ankles from time to time. Likely, it was more common after you’d spent hours standing, perhaps as part of your job.
That time on your feet, without much movement, robs your circulatory system of a powerful assist in the form of pumping action generated by your leg muscles when you walk. The constant cycle of contraction and relaxation helps your veins push blood back up toward the heart.
When you’re simply standing, in stasis, blood can pool and put pressure on the tiny backflow valves inside your veins. Swollen ankles are a sign of this fluid retention.
When veins fail and lose the ability to move blood well, you may be developing a problem called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). When your ankles reveal CVI, it’s in the form of red, purple, brown, or yellow skin discoloration. You may lose hair on your shins and the skin around your ankles could become thicker. The area might feel itchy or even painful.
Elsewhere on your legs, spider veins and varicose veins may emerge. Your legs may feel heavy or full when you’ve been sitting or standing for long periods of time. Over time, these symptoms can intensify and more damage to your skin appears, including dry, cracked skin and oozing ulcers.
CVI isn’t the only cause of stasis dermatitis. It can result from leg surgery or an injury to the area, or it may be due to other circulatory system problems including deep vein thrombosis or congestive heart failure.
Are you at risk?
Some people have a greater risk of being affected by stasis dermatitis. You may be more vulnerable if you are:
- Over 50
- Hypertensive (high blood pressure)
- Suffering from a circulatory condition
- Suffering from kidney disease
There are plenty of treatment approaches, depending on the reasons behind your ankle discoloration, including the treatment of both the symptoms and the underlying cause. Contact MD Vein and Skin Specialists by phone or online to schedule an examination with Dr. Banda. In many cases, he can relieve your symptoms as well as help improve the color of the skin on your lower legs. Book your appointment today.