One outgrowth of varicose veins is the dry, itchy skin of eczema. If you already have varicose veins, it’s likely you have varicose eczema, too.
Bulging blue lines along the legs aren’t the only symptom of varicose veins. Many varicose vein patients also suffer from varicose eczema, a skin condition that often occurs when the valves in the legs malfunction.
When those valves fail to pump blood back to the heart, the veins become distended, which gives rise to the appearance of varicose veins. As the blood pools and enlarges the veins, fluid may drain into the surrounding tissue. The leakage sets off a reaction by the body’s immune system characterized by the dry, itchy, scaly skin of eczema.
Are Varicose Veins the Cause of My Eczema?
Though eczema among patients with varicose veins is common, varicose veins aren’t always the cause. Eczema can also be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or of an infection within the deeper layers of skin known as cellulitis. The eczema could also be due to contact dermatitis, which occurs when your skin has an adverse reaction to a particular substance. DVT is a serious condition, so if you have eczema on your legs, it’s important to check with your internist or a vascular specialist to determine its cause.
If you currently suffer from varicose veins and suspect you may have varicose eczema, you might notice patches of irritated skin starting at your ankles and moving up to your calf. In its most severe form, varicose eczema could lead to lipodermatosclerosis, a condition that turns the skin to a red or brown color and hardens the fat under the skin. It could also cause ulcers.
How to Heal Varicose Eczema
To alleviate the bothersome symptoms of varicose eczema, a variety of treatment options are available. For example, gently applying ointments to the skin throughout the day can help counteract the dryness of eczema, though it’s important to note that you should only apply when the skin is dry. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate product.
Your doctor may also prescribe a topical corticosteroid to reduce redness and inflammation. You can use a corticosteroid with an ointment, but be sure to apply the ointment first, then wait several minutes before applying the corticosteroid. It’s also recommended corticosteroids only be used for a prescribed period, typically seven to 14 days, and not be applied more than twice daily.
Compression stockings are another option to help heal varicose eczema. Designed to compress the skin, these elastic socks force the blood in the legs up to the heart, thereby improving circulation and reducing pressure on the veins. You can buy a pair at a medical supply store or get a prescription from your doctor for a higher level of compression.
In addition, avoiding scratching or bruising the affected area, elevating your legs above your heart while lying down, and a regular exercise routine can all aid in reducing swelling and inflammation and easing the discomfort of varicose eczema.
It can also be helpful to avoid sitting or standing in one position for a long period. Get up and walk around to work your leg muscles so blood flows back to the heart. While sitting or standing, you can also flex your feet frequently or stand up on your toes to encourage blood flow.
Ultimately, if you have varicose eczema, you must treat the underlying cause — varicose veins — if you want to eliminate the pressure affecting your veins and skin. The vascular specialists at the Center for Vein Restoration can diagnose the condition and help you understand your various treatment options, including heat ablation and sclerotherapy. Book an appointment today.