Varicose eczema is a serious and common condition and I am going to tell you seven essential facts about it that you should know.
- “Varicose eczema” is in fact a misnomer and it is very misleading. This condition is neither an eczema – a skin problem- nor is it caused by varicose veins. The term arose before we fully understood the true nature of the problem. So varicose eczema can develop in the absence of visible varicose veins and unlike skin problems it should not be managed solely by dermatologists. Other misleading synonyms are gravitational eczema and stasis eczema suggesting that gravity somehow preferentially adversely affects some people – clearly ridiculous – or that blood is stagnant in some people – equally ridiculous.
- The true nature of varicose eczema is a malfunction of the veins of the legs causing inflammation and scarring of the skin and underlying fat layer. A better descriptive medical term is lipodermatosclerosis, certainly vein specialists prefer this term –often abbreviated to LDS. But it is a mouthful so you can see why non-specialists such as GPs as well as the general public prefer the term varicose eczema.
- Varicose eczema should not be treated with steroid creams except for very brief periods when itch and pain are very troublesome. Longer term use of steroids will help the relieve symptoms and the area will look and feel better but the use of steroids will thin the skin over time making it more vulnerable to further damage.
- Medical stockings or socks help normalise the function of the leg veins and therefore wearing them will go a long way to improving the varicose eczema. Ideally they should be put on first thing in the morning before getting out of bed and they should be taken off last thing at night.
- A Duplex ultrasound scan is essential in all cases of varicose eczema. It will detect the exact vein abnormality and the results of the scan will form the basis of the plan for curative treatment.
- Over half of all cases of varicose eczema are caused by a malfunction in the superficial veins of the leg- veins which lie deep to the skin but superficial to the leg muscles. These problems in the superficial veins can nearly always be cured by non-invasive procedures under local anaesthetic on a walk in walk out basis – procedures such as laser, radiofrequency, foam sclerotherapy or superglue.
- Finally, varicose eczema should be taken seriously. It is a warning sign that the skin is being damaged by inflammation and if neglected and not treated, varicose eczema will progress to a leg ulcer.
Contact me today for a confidential chat
If you’re worried about your veins and would like a confidential chat please do get in touch. I am happy to offer simple advice by telephone or email for free and without obligation.
The VeinCare Centre also offers a screening assessment with our vascular technologist. For £25 you can have a scan with Wendy Parsons. She is not a doctor and so she could not give you medical advice but she can check your deep veins and your varicose veins and give you an idea of how bad they are and whether laser might be suitable for you. If you would like to have an appointment with Wendy please call 0800 698 3467.