Stasis dermatitis - also known as venous or gravitational dermatitis - is a skin problem that’s associated with poor circulation. It usually occurs on the lower legs, and unfortunately can be very hard to clear up entirely.
Let’s take a look at what causes it and how you can make yourself more comfortable.
What causes stasis dermatitis?
The problem lies with the way blood circulates through the veins: if the valves in your veins aren’t working as they should, they can’t push blood up and round your body as they should. This means that blood can end up collecting in the lower legs; pressure and fluid builds up and affects the healthy functioning of the skin, causing inflammation and itchiness.
Who is affected by stasis dermatitis?
It’s usually the elderly who get stasis dermatitis, particularly those who aren’t as mobile or who have circulatory problems. You’re more likely to have problems with the valves in your veins if you have high blood pressure, kidney issues, are higher in weight, congestive heart failure, past surgery in the area or have had many pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of stasis dermatitis?
Although dermatitis just refers to a ‘skin irritation’, this kind of skin issue can range from mild itchiness to really quite severe blistering or ulceration. Common symptoms include:
- Swelling around the ankles and lower legs
- Achy or heavy feeling in your feet or legs
- Scaly, flaky or dry skin
- Discoloured skin (it can be reddish, brown, yellow or purple)
- Varicose veins
- Itch or pain
- Sores that ooze fluid and/or crust over
- Thickened skin on the lower legs or ankles
- Shiny, hairless skin on shins or ankles
What’s the best way to manage stasis dermatitis?
Because the dermatitis is caused by poor circulation, the best way to clear up the problem would be to improve blood flow to the lower legs.
This would include things like:
- Wearing compression stockings
- Elevating the legs
- Walking around regularly
However, these measures are not always going to be totally effective, especially in elderly or poorly people, so it’s important to have ways to make the skin more comfortable even if the circulation problems continue.
Looking after your skin if you have stasis dermatitis
We'd suggest a good skincare routine, with regular and generous applications of unfragranced emollients. Emollients come in different varieties, and different people will have different needs and preferences as to which they choose to use, but they are all useful for keeping stressed skin well hydrated, and helping to support regeneration and repair of damaged skin.
The three main types of emollient are balms, creams and oils.
An oil-based ointment (aka a balm or salve) like Skin Salvation is ideal if your skin is fragile or easily broken, or isn’t healing well. Oil-based balms like Skin Salvation tend to be best at moisturising very dry or delicate skin, as they're more protective and less likely to sting than water-based creams.
We’d suggest using a cream moisturiser on dry, itchy, but mostly unbroken skin. Choose Balmonds Cooling Cream with menthol, aloe & lavender if your legs are feeling really itchy and hot; this is a good, light lotion to keep tight or hot skin well moisturised and cool. And for a richer cream, try Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea, hemp & calendula; this is a soft cream based on shea butter, and also containing nourishing oils like hemp and olive to support the skin’s natural cycle of repair and regeneration.
If you’re in need of a nourishing, easy to-apply emollient, especially during or after bathing, try Balmond Bath & Body Oil. This is a rich, nutritious blend of oils (hemp, chamomile, olive, calendula) which can keep your skin hydrated and nourished without causing irritation.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
Balmonds Cooling Cream
with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender