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What is Stasis Dermatitis?

Stasis dermatitis or venous stasis dermatitis is a change in the skin that occur when blood collects (pools) in the veins of the lower leg. ‘Stasis’ refers to pooling of the blood in the lower legs from venous insufficiency, and ‘dermatitis’ refers to the inflammation and related skin changes. Because of the inflammation, the skin around the ankles is usually itchy and discolored.

At first, the skin of the ankles and lower legs may look thin or tissue-like. You may slowly get brown stains on the skin.

The skin may become irritated or crack if you scratch it. It may also become red or swollen, crusted, or weepy.

Over time, some skin changes become permanent:

  • Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles (lipodermatosclerosis)
  • A bumpy or cobblestone appearance of the skin
  • Dark brown color
Stasis Dermatitis with Ulceration

Chronic venous insufficiency over time can lead to skin changes and eventually ulceration. This image demonstrates stasis dermatitis (also known as venous dermatitis). Stasis dermatitis refers to the skin changes including skin discoloration around the ankles, dry itchy skin that can be thin, and it may eventually break down to cause an ulceration. You need to see a doctor if these signs are present.

Skin sores (ulcers) may develop (called a venous ulcer or stasis ulcer). These most often form on the inside of the ankle.  For this reason, whenever stasis dermatitis or skin changes are noticed around the ankle, you should see your doctor or vein specialist to stop the progression of venous insufficiency and prevent the skin from forming an ulceration.

  

 

Can Varicose Veins Cause Leg Ulcers?

ulcer-before-1

VENOUS LEG ULCER, BEFORE: This is a venous leg ulcer, caused by venous reflux or venous insufficiency. In this picture, you can see varicose veins above the wound.

After

VENOUS LEG ULCER, AFTER: Because this individual had reflux only in the superficial varicose veins, treatment consisted of foam sclerotherapy of the varicosities and compression with unna boot dressing. The wound healed rapidly and note that the varicose veins are gone.

A venous leg ulcer is an open wound on the leg, caused by long-standing vein problems. It is the most severe form of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Venous leg ulcers are common, accounting for over 70% of all leg wounds. It affects 1% of Americans and is the seventh leading cause for disability in the United States.

It is usually located around the ankle (on the inner or outer sides). It is caused by underlying venous insufficiency, or venous reflux.  The persistent venous reflux (back flow of blood through faulty valves) causes high pressure within the leg veins.  The high pressure, is then exerting outward on the skin, causing an inflammatory response, eventually causing the skin to break down.  Visible signs of venous disease are varicose veins, ankle swelling, skin discoloration around the ankle and usually precede the leg wound.  Underlying venous insufficiency can be detected by duplex ultrasound imaging (a non-painful study).

The treatment of venous leg ulcers is to correct the underlying problem: the faulty veins. Treatment of the underlying non-functional veins will reduce pressure from venous hypertension, allowing the wound to heal.  There are a number of non-surgical treatment options that can accomplish this including foam sclerotherapy and endovenous ablation, depending on the affected veins. To determine if your leg wound is related to a vein problem or for treatment options, call us for more information.