Can Varicose Veins Cause a Skin Rash?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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One of the most troublesome symptoms of varicose veins is an uncomfortable skin rash.

Varicose veins produce numerous uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, swelling, heaviness, cramping, and itching. But left left untreated, varicose veins can also lead to a skin rash, known as stasis dermatitis or varicose eczema.

Discolored, inflamed skin around the lower legs and ankles typify varicose eczema. And it’s caused by the same conditions that result in varicose veins: weakened valves in the veins that can no longer push back blood to the heart, resulting in a pooling of blood in the veins. As the blood builds up, fluid leaks into the surrounding skin, blocking oxygen from reaching the skin. Deprived of healing oxygen, the skin becomes red and scaly.

Without treatment, this skin rash could progress into an infected sore that doesn’t heal. Fortunately, if you already have varicose veins, you can prevent a skin rash by taking care of your skin and getting treatment for your varicose veins.

How to Prevent and Treat a Skin Rash from Varicose Veins

Skin rashes and leg ulcers are a common side effect of varicose veins, or venous insufficiency. Yet early medical intervention can help skin ulcers heal faster, as a study done in 2018 concluded. Therefore, treating the underlying cause of the skin rash — which is most likely varicose veins — will clear up the inflammation.

Today’s varicose vein therapies, such as sclerotherapy or endovenous ablation, are minimally invasive and use either heat or a safe solution to collapse the clogged vein so it eventually disappears. With improved circulation, your skin will naturally heal.

If you have varicose veins, you can take steps to prevent a skin rash or ulcer. Or, if you notice your skin changing color or becoming dry and flaky, these five measures will soothe your irritated skin.

Compress. Keep your blood flowing by gently compressing the veins in the legs with a pair of compression stockings. These tightly-woven elastic socks squeeze the veins so blood and fluids don’t stagnate in the vein or seep into the skin. Compression stockings are available in a variety of strengths. If you need a stronger compression, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription. Lower strength stockings can be bought in a drugstore.

Elevate. Help your veins pump blood back to the heart by elevating your legs above your heart for 15 minutes every two hours. When you sleep, prop your legs up on a pillow so that blood constantly moves in the right direction.

Moisturize. Slather on a lotion daily to maintain smooth skin. When choosing a moisturizer, pick one without dyes or fragrances that might irritate skin. Petroleum jelly is a good choice.

Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of varicose veins — and quite possibly a skin rash. By exercising your calf muscles in particular, you maintain proper blood flow and prevent blood from pooling. You’ll also keep your weight at an ideal level, which is important because obesity is a risk factor for varicose veins. When not working out, be sure to move around as much as you can, especially if you work at a job where you sit or stand for long hours. Prolonged sitting or standing blocks blood flow in the legs.

Medicate. If your skin rash doesn’t improve with at-home treatments, your vein specialist may prescribe medications to reduce the inflammation. These would include a corticosteroid or a topic calcineurin inhibitor (TCI) to counteract the redness, an antihistamine to stop the itch, or an antibiotic if the sore has become infected. Your doctor may also prescribe a medicated wrap or dressing to heal an open sore.

Healing Your Varicose Veins — And Skin

The nationwide branches of Center for Vein Restoration specialize in vein care. Our vein specialists and staff treat varicose veins and other venous disorders with the latest in treatment techniques, both surgical and non-surgical. Visit us today to learn your options to eliminate painful varicose veins.

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