Venous stasis or stasis dermatitis is changes in the skin that occur when blood collects (pools) in the veins of the lower leg. Caused by venous insufficiency this is a long-term (chronic) condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart. Blood pools in the veins of the lower leg. Fluid and blood cells leak out of the veins into the skin and other tissues. This may lead to itching, which causes more skin changes.
The symptoms of venous insufficiency include a dull aching or heaviness in the leg and pain that gets worse when you stand. The skin of the ankles and lower legs may look thin or tissue-like. You may slowly get brown stains on the skin and if you scratch the area, the skin may become irritated or crack. 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
Skin sores (ulcers) may develop (called a venous ulcer or stasis ulcer). These most often form on the inside of the ankle.
The diagnosis is primarily based on the appearance of the skin. Dr. Sowell may order tests to examine the blood flow in your legs and he may use elastic or compression stockings to reduce swelling. He will work with your primary care physician to determine what additional care might be needed such as medications or surgery. This conditions greatly affects ones ability to heal wounds and often times decreases ones quality of life. Therefore, early assesment and treatment is imperative.