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Stasis dermatitis: Overview


Also called gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis 

This condition develops in people who have poor circulation. Because poor blood flow usually occurs in the lower legs, this is where stasis dermatitis often develops. It may occur in one or both legs. Stasis dermatitis can develop in other areas, but this is rare. 

Severe stasis dermatitis on the lower leg and foot

Poor blood flow leads to skin changes in the extermities of people with stasis dermatitis.

Stasis dermatitis is most common in the lower legs because leg veins have one-way valves, which play an important role in circulating our blood. These valves push blood up the legs. As we age, these valves can weaken and stop working properly. Some blood can leak out and pool in the legs. Your dermatologist may refer to this as “venous (vee-nis) insufficiency.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with venous insufficiency, it does not mean that you will get stasis dermatitis. Watching for signs and symptoms of stasis dermatitis is important though. Treatment and self-care can prevent the stasis dermatitis from becoming severe.

Swelling around the ankle is often the first sign of stasis dermatitis. The swelling tends to clear while you sleep — and return during the day. Other early signs are discolored skin and varicose veins.


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Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

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