Stasis dermatitis: Signs and symptoms
Early signs and symptoms
Most people develop stasis dermatitis on their lower legs. When it begins in the legs, you may notice the following in one or both legs:
Heaviness or aching when you stand or walk for a long time
Swelling, often on the inside of the ankle, at the end of the day
Swelling clears when you sleep, but re-appears during the day
Itchy, dry skin over the varicose veins
Skin may feel irritated — red, swollen, and sore
Stasis dermatitis on the lower leg
Some people develop stasis dermatitissores that open and bleed. A dermatologist should examine all sores
Signs and symptoms as disease progresses
As the stasis dermatitis progresses, people often notice the following:
Swelling spreads beyond the ankle to the calf
Dry, cracked, itchy skin
Red to violet-colored open sores (medical term: venous ulcer), which can appear on the lower legs and tops of the feet
Sores leak fluid and scab as they heal
Sores can cause scars when they heal
Severe stasis dermatitis
This patient has severe stasis dermatitis of the feet. Treatment and self-care can prevent stasis dermatitis from becoming severe.
Severe stasis dermatitis
Left untreated, stasis dermatitis can worsen over the years and cause the following:
Area feels hard
Lower part of the calf shrinks, often making the calf look like an upside-down wine bottle
Skin becomes deeply pigmented
Redness and scale cover the area, including the top of the foot
Intensely itchy skin
Other medical conditions can develop where a person has stasis dermatitis. Two common conditions are:
Image #1 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: 2009; 61:1028-32.
Image #2 used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides
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Habif TP, Campbell JL, et al. “Stasis dermatitis” (card #18). Dermatology DDxDeck. Mosby Elsevier 2006.
Trayes KP, Studdiford JS, et. al. “Edema: Diagnosis and management.” Am Fam Physician. 2013 Jul 15;88(2):102-10.
Weaver J, Billings SD. “Initial presentation of stasis dermatitis mimicking solitary lesions: A previously unrecognized clinical scenario.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Dec;61(6):1028-32.
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