Stasis dermatitis is a common condition among the elderly and those with mobility issues or poor circulation. Here we look at what you can do to manage the symptoms.
What is stasis dermatitis?
Also known as venous or gravitational dermatitis, stasis dermatitis is an irritated skin condition that tends to affect the lower legs, feet and ankles. That’s because it’s associated with poor circulation, and what’s called venous insufficiency, which is when the tiny valves in your veins don’t work as they should to push blood around the body. This lack of circulation results in blood and fluid collecting in the lower legs, which ends up affecting the skin as well as the veins.
What does stasis dermatitis look like?
The result of this poor circulation is that skin can get irritated and fragile, and can develop a kind of eczema-like rash. Symptoms can vary considerably, from patches of mild itchiness and dry skin, to widespread areas of very sore or broken skin.
- Swelling around ankles and lower legs
- Achy or heavy feeling in feet or legs
- Scaly, flaky or dry skin
- Discoloured patches of skin
- Varicose veins
- Itchiness 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
How do you manage stasis dermatitis?
The best way of managing the uncomfortable symptoms of stasis dermatitis is to improve your circulation. Ways to help get the blood moving again include making sure you get up and go for regular short walks; wearing compression stockings; doing exercises with your feet, and elevating your feet.
However, the sad truth is that not everyone will be able to get rid of poor circulation completely; it is something that tends to worsen with age and with other health conditions. In these cases, treatment for stasis dermatitis involves looking after your skin and making sure it’s comfortable as possible.
The primary line of defence against fragile or irritated skin is to keep it moisturised. This will support the normal functioning of the skin barrier, as the drier it gets, the more fragile it will be.
Choose emollients that won’t irritate your skin further; make sure they’re free from perfumes and other harsh synthetic ingredients. Oil-based balms or ointments are more effective at moisturising very dry or damaged skin than water-based creams, so something like Skin Salvation would be perfect for the job.
If your skin is dry, itchy but unbroken, or is feeling hot and uncomfortable, you could also try our Cooling Cream with lavender, menthol and aloe.
Some people find that wrapping their lower legs in bandages can help make stasis dermatitis more comfortable. As with wraps for eczema, you can apply your emollient (such as Skin Salvation) under a bandage or dressing.
Avoid irritating ingredients
When your skin is so sensitive and fragile, as with stasis dermatitis, it is a good idea to avoid putting anything on it which might cause inflammation or irritation. This includes body washes, shower gels and bubble baths, as well as moisturisers. Choose unfragranced products which are soap-free, free from sulphates (ie SLS) and don’t use dyes or harsh preservatives, as all these can cause sensitive skin to flare up.
Keep things soft!
Be aware of what you’re putting on your skin. Use soft, clean towels to pat your legs dry very gently. Be aware of your bedding, the laundry detergent you’re using on your sheets or clothes, and synthetic materials next to your skin. Pet hair and dust can also flare up stasis dermatitis.
BathingIt can be lovely to take relaxing baths, not just to keep sore skin clean and free from infection, but also to lower your stress and pain levels. But do make baths warm rather than hot, and keep them free from bubbles which might irritate the skin! Add a few drops of Balmonds Bath & Body Oil to a warm bath for something that smells lovely but will nourish your skin rather than irritate it.
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
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.