Stasis Dermatitis

This image displays an early case of stasis dermatitis.

This image displays an early case of stasis dermatitis.

Stasis dermatitis is sometimes called venous stasis dermatitis because it arises when there is a problem with the veins, generally in the lower legs.

Instead of the normal blood flow through the veins back to the heart, varicose veins or a problem with the valves of the veins allows for pressure to develop. This pressure results in fluid leaking out of the veins and into the skin, which then causes:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Itching or pain
Stasis Dermatitis - Image:

This image displays long-standing stasis dermatitis and varicose veins associated with swelling and inflammation in the skin.

In severe cases, there can be:

  • Oozing
  • Open areas (cracking or larger ulcers)
  • Infection

Over time, recurrent dermatitis can result in more permanent changes in the skin including:

  • Lipodermatosclerosis: scar-like changes in the fat and other soft tissues
  • Atrophie blanche: white scars surrounded by tiny capillaries
  • Lichenification: thickened skin due to chronic scratching or rubbing

How is Stasis Dermatitis Treated?

Stasis Dermatitis - Image:

This image displays a lower leg with poor vein function (stasis) that has developed red, itchy dermatitis as well as swelling.

Because the cause is known, treating the underlying issue (the veins) is preferred. However, sometimes the surgery for the veins is not possible, or is not able to repair the veins completely.

Pressure stockings or wraps can be used to help mechanically move the fluid out of the skin and soft tissues. Elevating the feet when possible can also help along these lines.

Like in other forms of eczema, a topical corticosteroid medication can help calm the inflammation and itch. Sometimes covering the corticosteroid with plastic wrap or an Unna boot can greatly assist in severe or resistant cases.

In cases where corticosteroids are not appropriate, or when they have been used for a prolonged period, a non-corticosteroid topical medication such as tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel) may be prescribed. These agents, topical calcineurin inhibitors , are approved for use by adults and children two years of age or older, and they avoid many of the side effects of corticosteroids.

Will it Ever Go Away?

Stasis Dermatitis tends to be chronic until the underlying cause is addressed. Fortunately, this is often possible with wraps, stockings, or surgery, so many are able to avoid prolonged use of medication for treatment.

View more statis dermatitis pictures at