Stasis dermatitis (SD), also known as venous eczema, is skin irritation and breakdown due to the fluid accumulating under the skin.
SD typically affects the lower legs, and sores may develop.
This condition usually occurs in people who have poor circulation. Also, it is more common in people who are 50 or older.
According to statistics, SD affects an estimated 15 to 20 million people in the US.
Moreover, it is more common in women than men, perhaps related to lower extremity venous impairment aggravated by pregnancy.
Note – in the early stages, there is edema of the lower one-third of the legs, that have an erythematous appearance.
Common symptoms may include:
- scars where ulcers healed;
- shiny skin;
- swelling, particularly around the ankles which goes away while sleeping, however, it returns during the day;
- open areas (cracking or larger ulcers);
- discolored skin;
- leg ache;
- scaling and dryness;
- varicose veins (twisted, enlarged veins);
Note – early detection of SD presenting as a rash near the ankle, itching, or a brownish skin discoloration of the ankle area, lower calf, or foot is vital in order to treat and avoid more serious health problems.
The cracks and poor skin condition make it possible for a bacterial infection to develop.
For instance, cellulitis (a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection) can develop and spread through the leg.
Cellulitis may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch.
Another complication of the condition is stasis ulceration (varicose ulcer). The ulcers are shallow and can be quite large.
When severe and chronic, SD may induce sclerosis, beginning around the ankles and progressing proximally.
Poor circulation causes this condition. Usually, poor circulation is the result of a chronic condition called venous insufficiency.
Venous insufficiency is a long-term condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.
This is caused by damaged valves which are in the veins.
There are certain diseases and conditions which can increase the risk of developing SD and they include:
- deep vein thrombosis in your legs;
- high blood pressure;
- numerous pregnancies;
- varicose veins;
- injury to your lower legs;
- kidney failure (a medical condition in which the kidneys are functioning at less than 15 percent of normal);
- congestive heart failure (a chronic condition which affects the pumping power of the heart muscles);
The diagnosis is based on the characteristic appearance of the skin lesions and other signs of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Also, consultation with a vascular specialist and testing may be required.
Treatment usually includes corticosteroids and the calcineurin inhibitors (immunomodulating agents that act on the immune system to reduce skin inflammation), tacrolimus and pimecrolimus.
Notes – corticosteroids have an associated risk of tachyphylaxis (a rapidly decreasing response to a drug following its initial administration) and must be used carefully because of the high risk of infection in these sufferers.
Long-term treatment is aimed at treating CVI by keeping blood from pooling in the veins around the ankles.
Tips and Natural Treatment For Stasis Dermatitis (Venous Eczema):
Your calf muscles are vital as they help pump blood back to the heart. Therefore, keep your leg muscles working to increase circulation.
Also, when you use your calf muscles, you are helping to bring fresh oxygen back to the leg tissues.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Tight or rough fabrics can irritate your skin and affect circulation.
Compression stockings are an excellent choice for your legs, however, it is better to choose loose-fitting cotton clothes for the rest of your body.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
If an infection develops, the tea tree oil’s antibacterial compounds can fight off the infection and prevent spreading.
Also, it has antiseptic properties that help to soothe the itch and heal the skin while preventing further damage.
Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation.
Aloe vera gel can be applied topically to the affected areas to help soothe skin irritations associated with the condition.
It is so effective in treating skin problems due to its content of two hormones: Gibberellins and Auxin.
These two hormones provide anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties which reduce skin inflammation.
It is a popular treatment for different skin issues, including SD, thanks to its unique fatty acids (lauric and caprylic acid) that form a potent duo and help to stop SD symptoms in its tracks.
Note – you should always choose raw, organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil to use on your skin.
The chamomile flower has therapeutic properties which can help to soothe the affected skin.
Also, it has anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
Note – you should soak your skin in the bathwater mixed with 10 drops of chamomile oil for approximately half-an-hour per day or apply chamomile cream 3 times a day until your skin problem is gone.
Horsetail is an amazing herb when it comes to skin conditions as it offers anti-inflammatory attributes which can ease the symptoms associated with SD.
This medicinal herb is also used to improve the tone, strength, and texture of the skin as well as it helps improve circulation while rejuvenating connective tissue.
Moreover, horsetail is a very good source of silicon, a nonmetallic chemical element in the carbon family and the material of which collagen is made.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body and it makes up a large part of our hair, skin, and nails. Collagen is also required by your skin for the normal regeneration of healthy skin tissues.
Another very useful ingredient which you can make use of as a natural remedy for SD is turmeric, due to its potent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
To use it, you can add 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder into 1/4 liter of water.
Then, heat the liquid to boil. Allow the mixture of turmeric and water to cool. You can wash the affected skin area using this mixture.
It has been used in baking ingredients, medicines, tools, and woodwork for centuries.
Also known as the Indian Arabic tree, it is useful in curing skin conditions.
To use it, boil a small amount of Acacia Arabica in plain water, then allow the vapors to reach the affected skin area.
Lift Your Legs
Leg elevation 6 inches above the level of the heart during sleep improves blood flow.
Note – do not elevate your legs more than 45 degrees, according to the “Manual of Medical-Surgical Nursing Care.”
Take Rest Breaks At Work
If your job keeps you standing or sitting for long periods, take time to move.
Note – take a brisk walk for 10 minutes each hour.
A healthy, allergen-free, whole-foods-based diet can go a long way to reduce underlying inflammation.
Here are some things you should avoid:
- alcohol – it increases inflammation and dries your skin out;
- food additives and processed foods make the signs and symptoms a lot worse;
- foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fats increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis in your legs;
- fried foods – they increase whole-body inflammation;
- allergens, such as dairy products and eggs, can be a catalyst for the condition;
- margarine and trans fats block the absorption of essential fatty acids.