If you have noticed that you have skin discoloration on legs, the odds are that there is a vein problem going on. The most likely cause of this is venous reflux disease, also call venous insufficiency. The problem begins when the valves in your veins become impaired or weakened and stops functioning correctly. Skin discoloration is usually a late stage symptom of venous reflux. Before your leg skin changes its complexion, there will be varicose veins and spider veins and their symptoms. Hence, people should always seek early medical help when they discover abnormal leg veins.
By so doing, they can ensure that complications like skin color changes, venous leg ulcers, vein inflammation and bleeding and blood clots are prevented from ever occurring. It’s so unfortunate if you are already suffering from these complications. While treatment is possible, it will be a long, difficult process. So, ensure that you meet the best vascular doctor NYC before it’s too late to cure your veins in a less invasive manner.
This is the main cause of varicose veins and spider veins and all the afore-mentioned complications. It is a serious vein disease that should never be left untreated. As earlier hinted, the disease begins when the valves stop working properly. They are naturally made to open when venous blood is flowing back to the heart in an upward direction. So when the single-way flaps open, they let the blood pass and when they close, they prevent it from flowing backwards.
If there is a problem with the valves, they will open and not close fully. This will allow some blood to leak and flow backward. As venous blood continues to leak and collect in the leg veins, the pressure within the veins will mount and make their walls swell. This is when varicose veins and spider veins will begin to appear on your legs. It will also mark the beginning of venous reflux, a condition that never stops progressing unless it is recognized early.
Once varicose veins and spider veins show up, they may be accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms. These include:
- Leg cramps at night
- Ankle swelling
- Throbbing or burning pain
- Restless leg syndrome
- Heaviness in the legs.
Varicose veins and spider veins are technically the same thing, but there are some differences. Spider veins are a version of varicose veins that are smaller in size and less severe. Alternatively called thread veins or telangiectasias, spider veins are so common among females and can disappear without treatment. They form a webbed pattern, although they can also look like a tree twig. Spider veins are as tiny as blood capillaries and can be red or blue in color. While they are visible on the skin surface, thread veins are not swollen veins and will appear on your thigh, calf or foot area.
On the other hand, varicose veins are enlarged, swollen and knotted leg veins. They are medically known as trunk veins and tend to have a blue or purplish color. Trunk varicose veins are extremely visible when one is standing up or sitting down with their legs dangling. They may cause pain and discomfort or be totally symptomless. Whether trunk veins are painless or painful, it is a good idea to have them treated early to prevent skin discoloration on legs and other last stage symptoms.
There are a number of effective treatment techniques offered to those who are suffering from varicose veins and spider veins. While some people aren’t at all bothered by spider veins, there are beauty conscious people who want them removed completely. Besides, spider veins can worsen in terms of discomfort and pain and force one to seek medical help. In addition, your vascular doctor NYC might notice that your spider veins are as a result of failing valves and recommend early treatment.
Otherwise, less problematic thread veins can be cured through exercise, proper diet to lose weight and reducing leg strain when working. You can also wear compression stockings when going to work. As for varicose veins and spider veins together, you will require proper medical intervention.
Skin discoloration on legs
If treatment for varicose veins and spider veins is not received early enough, venous reflux disease will worsen. Once it reaches its advanced stage, a number of symptoms can crop up. One of these is skin discoloration on legs. The medical name for this problem is stasis dermatitis. Its alternative names are gravitational dermatitis, varicose eczema or venous eczema. It is a type of typical eczema disease that habitually affects any part of skin. The difference is that stasis eczema occurs in those who have severe and untreated varicose veins. The main cause of this disorder is poor blood circulation in leg veins.
Mostly affecting the lower parts of the leg, varicose eczema is sometimes accompanied by painful sores. These are known as venous ulcers and they are scary open wounds. Often affecting obese people, skin discoloration on legs is normally associated with about twenty percent of those who are over seventy years of age.
What are the symptoms?
Firstly, signs will affect your ankles and they can include the following:
- Dirty, itchy, flaky and irritated skin may cover your varicosities
- Red, painful and swollen skin
- Crusty skin that may ooze pus
- Leg swelling that worsens in the evening and reduces after going to bed
- A heaviness sensation in the legs when one stands for hours and it may be accompanied by pain.
If you notice skin discoloration on legs and do nothing at all, the condition will extend beyond the lower leg and affect your calf. This might trigger more symptoms and make treatment even harder. These are:
- Dry, cracked, itchy and shiny skin
- Venous ulcerations on the lower legs and tops of feet. These are usually red or purple sores that can hurt a lot.
If you aren’t keen to seek treatment or follow the instructions provided by the vascular doctor NYC, your skin sores will become more scaly, weepy and crusty. Moreover, the affected areas might develop a severe bacterial infection. If the condition remains untreated, venous eczema will gradually get worse and shift to other parts of the body. Besides, the following could happen:
- Lower part of your leg might start to lose fat and shrink
- Hard areas with thickened, fibrous skin might appear
- Deep skin pigmentation that will make your leg skin tone appear uneven
- Red, scaly skin
- Severe skin itch that will add to your discomfort.
As the skin will obviously be in a terrible state, and have cracks, bouts of bacterial infection might affect it. One of the infections that can affect those who have skin discoloration on legs is called cellulitis. A disease affecting deeper body tissues, cellulitis can quickly develop and spread all over the leg. This disease needs special attention from your vein doctor.
Even if varicose eczema is treated, different drugs used to get rid of it can trigger extreme skin sensitivity and pain. In other words, it can become contact dermatitis, another form of stasis dermatitis.
What are the risk factors?
People are more susceptible to stasis dermatitis are those with varicose veins and spider veins. If you have these abnormal veins, your odds of developing leg skin eczema are higher. See your vascular doctor, therefore, as they will do everything possible to keep you from getting to this last stage.
Above and beyond, when you get older, your leg valves will weaken and fail to work normally. This will lead to varicose veins and spider veins and then venous eczema and other complications. Do you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, a history of deep vein thrombosis (involves blood clot formation), prior leg surgery in the affected area or kidney failure? If so, your risk of having skin discoloration on legs is higher.
Another thing that might increase your risk of having varicose eczema is your lifestyle. What is your posture when working? Do you sit down or stand up for several hours? If so, you are likely to develop a poor blood circulation problem and then varicose veins and spider veins. Once these have formed, sooner or later you will have stasis dermatitis too. If you are generally a sedentary type of person, you are in danger of having skin discoloration on legs. The same is the case with those who are overweight and aren’t doing anything to drop some weight.
Constant strain on leg veins will lead to vascular problems. Are you a pregnant woman who has been expectant more than once previously? If that’s the case, you are in danger of having a venous insufficiency condition. Once the condition becomes CVI (chronic venous insufficiency), you will develop varicose eczema, ulcers, DVT, phlebitis or another late stage complication.
How diagnosis is carried out
The best way to know if you have skin dermatitis is to see a vein specialist who can understand and evaluate your leg skin. They will do a physical examination especially because there will be visible signs. Additionally, the vein doctor will ask if you have a history of blood clots, prior surgery, a heart disease or a previous leg injury. If need be, the doctor might as well do certain tests to determine if there is a particular cause of poor blood circulation.
These may include blood tests, heart function tests and venous ultrasound tests to check how your blood is flowing in the veins. Moreover, the doctor might carry out skin allergy tests because any person with stasis dermatitis is prone to it. If the doctor finds out that you have varicose veins and spider veins plus eczema, they will figure out the best way to treat you.
Treating stasis dermatitis
The main goal your doctor will have is to ease your symptoms. So they will use non-medical and medical techniques to do this. The most commonly applied self-help techniques include the following:
- Wearing compression stockings – These are tight socks that compress the ankles area to reduce swelling and increase blood flow. These are necessary to improve blood circulation and venous insufficiency symptoms.
- Elevation of legs – It is necessary to raise your legs every two hours for fifteen minutes to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling. This is a recommendation given by the AAD (the American Academy of Dermatology). It also recommends propping up your legs with a pillow when you go to bed at night.
If these don’t heal skin discoloration on legs, you will be treated via medical techniques and these include the following:
- Use of drugs like TCI (topic calcineurin inhibitor) or a corticosteroid. Either of these will reduce inflammation and pain.
- Special dressing of weepy sores or ulcers. These wounds require dressing every two to three days. Once they improve, dressing can be done once or twice a week.
- If you have itching, your doctor might prescribe an antihistamine drug.
- If you have cellulitis, leg ulcers or another bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If your ulcers are large, a skin graft treatment process might be carried out.
- In case you have severe varicose veins that haven’t responded to less invasive treatment techniques, your doctor might recommend surgery.
- For your dry, flaky skin, the best solution is application of emollients and moisturizers.
- Finally, your specialist will determine how best to reduce your skin discoloration on legs.
The best way to prevent or manage skin discoloration on legs if it recurs in future is to wear compression stockings, raise your legs severally and use medicines for skin care. If you work while standing up or sitting down for several hours, figure out how you can limit the strain triggered by this. Try to keep your skin soft and lovely using emollients and moisturizers. Never use harsh soaps or lotions as they could make your skin drier and more sensitive. Finally, do not shy away from exercise and eating a balanced diet as these will help you loose weight, reduce strain on leg veins and help skin discoloration on legs improve.