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Cellulitis | Varicose Eczema | Which is it?


Varicose Eczema Masquerading as Cellulitis

Varicose Eczema can take 2 forms. It frequently looks like a skin rash around the ankle and it is sometimes mistakenly considered to be primarily a skin condition and therefore it sometimes managed with creams such as hydrocortisone or similar steroid creams for long periods of time. This is the chronic form of varicose eczema that can be present for years before it may eventually cause a leg ulcer. The eczema in its early stages, may come and go, and the symptoms of itch and discomfort are relieved quickly by hydrocortisone. The problem with chronic varicose eczema is that many people receive the incorrect treatment based only on skin creams when really these people should be referred to a vascular specialist for a venous duplex ultrasound scan and subsequently, the vein problem should be treated to prevent leg ulceration.

The other form is acute varicose eczema (also known as acute lipodermatosclerosis). This condition can develop very quickly and it causes severe pain. This lady I saw a few weeks ago, had so much leg pain that she could hardly bare being touch there, she could not sleep and she had difficulty walking. Few doctors in primary care will have seen this problem and it is frequently misdiagnosed as cellulitis and therefore antibiotics are given. Antibiotics are the wrong treatment. Acute varicose eczema needs to be investigated by a venous duplex ultrasound scan.

I treated this lady by ENDO-VENOUS LASER (EVL), closing the abnormal veins and faulty vein valves, and after just a few weeks, her leg is pain-free and the eczema has cleared. This form of varicose eczema is the most difficult for non-specialists to diagnose.  In the video below, I show the results.

So, varicose eczema is not primarily a skin rash and it can sometimes look like cellulitis. Only a venous duplex ultrasound can diagnose the problem accurately. The abnormal veins which cause varicose eczema should be treated as soon as possible to prevent progression to leg ulceration.

If you would like a consultation with one of our specialists about your varicose eczema, then do please contact us.