Varicose eczema, also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema, is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs.
Is Varicose Eczema Dangerous?
While the condition is not typically life-threatening, it can indicate an underlying medical condition. If you have varicose eczema, you need to see your GP to rule out any more serious problems. In some cases, varicose eczema can signal venous insufficiency when the veins cannot adequately pump blood back to the heart. Venous insufficiency can lead to, or develop into, more serious health problems.
What are the Complications of Varicose Eczema?
While most forms of eczema are relatively harmless, varicose eczema can lead to some severe complications. One of the most common complications of varicose eczema is ulceration. This is when the skin breaks down, leading to open sores. The other form is acute varicose eczema (lipodermatosclerosis), often misdiagnosed as cellulitis. This condition can develop very quickly, and it causes severe pain and swelling.
What Causes Varicose Eczema?
The actual cause of this condition is believed to be linked to a problem with the veins in the legs. When the veins are not functioning correctly, they can leak fluid into the tissues. This can cause inflammation and irritation, which leads to eczema symptoms. The blood flow can also be affected, which can cause the skin to become discoloured. You will often see this condition developing on the legs, but it can also occur on other body parts.
The malfunctioning veins can be due to several factors, including obesity and prolonged standing. People who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop varicose eczema, as the extra weight puts pressure on the veins. This can cause them to become damaged and leaky. Also, people who stand for long periods are more likely to develop varicose eczema, as gravity can pool the blood in the veins of the legs. The increased pressure on the veins can again cause them to become damaged and leaky.
When biopsies are taken of the skin in people with varicose eczema, it is often found that there is a problem with the valves in the veins. The valves are responsible for keeping the blood flowing in one direction. When they are not working correctly, the blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins. This can cause the veins to become enlarged and twisted, leading to eczema symptoms.
How to Soothe Varicose Eczema?
There are ways to manage the symptoms and prevent the condition of varicose eczema from worsening. For example, you can avoid injuring the skin. This includes avoiding scratching the skin, which can lead to open sores and infection. These open sores and infections can then worsen the condition of varicose eczema.
In addition, raising your legs when you are sitting or lying down can help to improve circulation and reduce the symptoms of varicose eczema. Propping your legs on a cushion when you sleep can also be helpful. This helps to reduce the pooling of blood in the leg veins, which can aggravate the symptoms of varicose eczema.
Compression stockings can also help manage the symptoms of varicose eczema. These stockings help to reduce the swelling in the legs and improve circulation. For instance, you can wear compression stockings when sitting or standing for long periods. Your doctor can prescribe the right type and size of compression stocking for you. Loose-fitting clothing will also help to reduce irritation and discomfort from varicose eczema.
It is also important to keep your skin moisturised. This helps to prevent the skin from drying out, which can worsen the symptoms of varicose eczema. You can use a moisturiser that is specifically designed for people with eczema. These moisturisers are usually thick and oily, which helps to keep the skin hydrated. You should regularly apply the moisturiser to the affected area, especially after bathing.
Keeping physically active can also help to reduce the symptoms of varicose eczema. Exercise helps improve circulation and reduce blood pooling in the leg veins. Walking is a good form of exercise to help reduce the symptoms of varicose eczema. You can take walks around your neighbourhood or at a nearby park.
Varicose Eczema FAQs
Can varicose eczema lead to serious health problems?
While varicose eczema is not a serious health problem, it can be a sign of underlying vein disease and poor circulation, leading to more serious health problems such as skin ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, and even blood clots.
Can varicose eczema be life-threatening?
Varicose eczema itself is not life-threatening, but the underlying vein disease that causes it can be severe and require prompt medical attention.
Should I be worried if I have varicose eczema?
While varicose eczema can be uncomfortable and unsightly, it is not typically a cause for concern. However, if you have varicose eczema, you must see a vascular specialist to determine the underlying cause and address any potential health risks.
Can varicose eczema lead to amputation?
In rare cases, varicose eczema can lead to skin ulcers that may be difficult to heal. If left untreated, these ulcers can lead to tissue death and may require amputation in severe cases.
It is important to note that varicose eczema is a symptom of an underlying vein disease, and the condition can lead to serious health problems if not treated promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent the progression of the disease and avoid serious complications.
To sum it up, varicose eczema is not contagious, and it is not dangerous. However, it can be very uncomfortable and can make everyday activities difficult. But with proper management, the symptoms can be controlled, and the condition can be prevented from worsening. Please have a look at your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan if you have varicose eczema.
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