What Causes Skin Discoloration on Legs?
Shorts, capris, and skirts are all popular choices for staying cool in the summer months, but skin discoloration on legs can make you self-conscious. Many people with this condition simply cover up and go on with their daily routine. However, ignoring changes in skin color isn’t the solution.
Skin discoloring can be a symptom of medical issues ranging from contact dermatitis to cancer. In some cases, changes in skin color can signal a serious vein disease: Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). If you notice the skin on your ankles and legs turning a reddish-brown shade, see your vein doctor in New York or vein doctor in New Jersey right away.
What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
Your circulatory system is nothing short of miraculous. The heart pumps blood to the lungs for oxygen, and arteries carry oxygenated red blood cells from your lungs to every part of your body. Once the oxygen in your blood is used up, veins manage the return of blood to the heart, and the whole process repeats.
Inside your veins, one-way valves ensure blood moves towards the heart. When these valves are damaged or diseased, gravity takes over and blood leaks backwards. The pressure in your veins builds, and the vessel walls are weakened. Eventually, blood pools in the lower half of your body, which results in a variety of issues. This condition is referred to as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).
Common symptoms of CVI include varicose veins, spider veins, and leg cramps. You might also feel a sense of heaviness in your legs. Some patients experience restless leg syndrome, and others have swelling, aching, itchiness, and tenderness in the affected area. As the condition gets worse, these symptoms intensify. Skin discoloration on legs, or Venous Stasis Dermatitis, may indicate the disease is progressing.
One of the biggest problems with CVI is that its symptoms are often attributed to other medical conditions. This disease is underdiagnosed, which means patients are less likely to get the most effective treatment. Evaluation by a specialized vein doctor is critical to correctly diagnosing and managing CVI.
What is Venous Stasis Dermatitis?
As vein disease advances, more blood settles in the legs and ankles. Many people begin to notice that skin in the affected area feels tight, itchy, and irritated. In time, it can thicken and develop a discolored appearance. This is referred to as Venous Stasis Dermatitis.
Unfortunately, discoloration isn’t the only issue. Skin affected by Venous Stasis Dermatitis is especially vulnerable to injuries. A minor cut or abrasion can quickly develop into a sore that is easily infected and slow to heal. These sores are called Venous Stasis Ulcers. Often, even when a stasis ulcer does heal, it reopens at the slightest irritation.
Who is at Risk for Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
CVI affects both men and women, and it can develop at any age. Women who are pregnant or experiencing menopause are at greater risk, as are people who spend a lot of time sitting or standing. CVI is more common after the age of 50 for both genders, and it is more likely in those who have a family history of vein disease. Smoking and obesity are associated with CVI risk, and individuals who have had injury or trauma to their leg are prone to the condition.
How is Chronic Venous Insufficiency Treated?
At one time, the only treatment for diseased veins was an invasive surgery called vein stripping. Fortunately, there have been significant advances in this area of medicine, and today’s treatments are non-surgical and minimally invasive. They are designed to quickly close diseased veins, so that blood can be rerouted through healthier vessels.
Most of these procedures are virtually painless, and they can be done in your vein doctor’s office. Each treatment takes just 15 – 30 minutes of your time, and you can return to your regular activities within a day or two.
What Should I Do If I Notice Skin Discoloration on Legs?
All too often, patients with skin discoloration on legs seek assistance from their primary care physicians and dermatologists. Their providers recommend ineffective treatments such as home remedies, compression stockings, and topical medications. While these practitioners are excellent within their specialties, they simply don’t have the tools and experience needed to properly diagnose vein disease.
A vein doctor is the best choice for Venous Stasis Dermatitis. Vein specialists are highly skilled at diagnosing and managing vein disease, and they have the experience and expertise necessary to treat your condition using advanced non-invasive techniques. To schedule your consultation with a Board-Certified vein doctor in NY or vein doctor in NJ, visit the Vein Treatment Clinic today.