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What Causes Varicose Eczema & How Is It Treated?

What is Varicose Eczema?

Varicose Eczema which is also referred to by the name of venous eczema is a chronic dermatological disorder that primarily involves the lower extremities. This condition is normally seen in people who have a known diagnosis of varicose veins. Varicose Eczema does not have a cure but there are treatments available which can keep the symptoms under control. As is the case with other types of eczema, Varicose Eczema also causes the skin of the legs to become itchy, erythematous, and swollen. There will also be excessive dryness of the skin and flakes of skin can be seen dropping.[1]

The symptoms of Varicose Eczema tend to wax and wane. Individuals with Varicose Eczema will have swollen legs after a day’s activity where they may have been standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. People with Varicose Eczema may also experience brownish discoloration of the skin along with noticeable tightness of the skin.  The individual will also complain of unrelenting pain in the lower legs. If Varicose Eczema is left untreated then it may lead to a variety of complications like ulcers due to excessive damage done to the skin due to this condition.[1]

Varicose Eczema is a condition that needs to be assessed and treated by a physician.  Just by observing the affected area, they will be able to arrive at a diagnosis of Varicose Eczema.  The physicians may also ask the patient to ascertain whether there has been a previous diagnosis of varicose veins or any other condition that may affect the blood flow to the legs. This article explains in detail the various causes of Varicose Eczema and different ways to manage the condition.[1]

What Causes Varicose Eczema & How Is It Treated?

What Causes Varicose Eczema?

To understand the causes of Varicose Eczema, it is important to understand how blood flows through the legs. The lower legs have valves that carry the blood through to the heart for oxygenation.  With age, these valves become weak and it becomes difficult for the blood to get back up to the heart. This results in the blood getting accumulated around the lower leg leading to swelling. This is medically termed as venous insufficiency.[2]

The primary complication of venous insufficiency is cell necrosis which ultimately leads to Varicose Eczema. There are certain factors which increase the risk of an individual having this condition. These factors include having a history of varicose veins, hypertension, deep vein thrombosis, renal dysfunction, or a surgical procedure around the lower leg.[2]

There are also certain lifestyle habits that increase the risk of an individual having Varicose Eczema. These include standing for prolonged periods of time, sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight. Additionally, females who have had multiple pregnancies in their lifetime are also at increased risk for developing Varicose Eczema.  This is because the weight of the fetus puts excessive strain on the lower half of the body.[2]

Treatment for Varicose Eczema

As stated, there is no definite cure for Varicose Eczema.  However, treatments are available for calming down the symptoms. Wearing compression stockings is one way of reducing swelling and improving circulation around the affected area. It is also recommended to keep the leg elevated above the level of the heart to improve circulation around the lower legs. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends people with Varicose Eczema to elevate their legs for at least 15 minutes after every couple of hours to improve circulation.  They also recommend using a pillow while sleeping at night to prop the leg up.[2]

There are also certain medications that are given to calm down the symptoms of Varicose Eczema. The most preferred among the medications is the use of corticosteroids. This works by reducing inflammation and calms down the pain and swelling. In case if the condition is left untreated and there is formation of ulcers then the patient will need to have dressings done which will have to be changed every couple of days till the time the wounds heal.[2]

In case if the patient develops cellulitis due to Varicose Eczema then he or she will have to undergo a course of antibiotics to clear the infection. To deal with the itching associated with Varicose Eczema, antihistamines are extremely effective. For the dry skin that is seen in people with Varicose Eczema, moisturizers are useful. The American Academy of dermatology recommends use of petroleum jelly as the best remedy for treating dry skin due to Varicose Eczema.[2]

In severe cases, where varicose veins are suspected to be the cause of Varicose Eczema, then surgery may have to be done to treat the condition. The surgery will involve removal of the varicose veins thereby relieving pain, swelling, and inflammation.  In case if the skin loses its shine and color, then a visit to a dermatologist will be of help.[2]

An individual who is at risk for Varicose Eczema can take various steps to prevent Varicose Eczema. These steps include not standing for prolonged periods of time and taking a break whenever possible. It is also important to take care of the dry skin by using non-fragrant moisturizers and emollients.  Additionally, it is important to avoid bath products like soaps and lotions with chemicals and fragrances over the affected areas as they may further dry up the skin.[2]

Maintaining an ideal weight and eating a balanced diet is also extremely effective in boosting blood circulation and preventing pooling of blood that results in a condition like varicose veins or Varicose Eczema.[2]


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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