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Stasis dermatitis and ulcers

Contents of this page:


Dermatitis, stasis on the leg
Dermatitis, stasis on the leg

Alternative Names    Return to top

Venous stasis ulcers; Ulcers - venous

Definition    Return to top

Stasis dermatitis is a skin condition due to the buildup of fluid (swelling) under the skin.

Causes    Return to top

The extra fluid that builds up in the body makes it hard for the blood to feed cells and get rid of waste products. The tissue becomes poorly nourished and fragile, resulting in stasis dermatitis. The disorder is common on the ankles because there is less supportive tissue in this area.

Poor circulation in the veins (venous insufficiency) can cause stasis dermatitis and craters (ulcers) in the skin. Varicose veins, congestive heart failure, and other conditions can cause the arms and legs to swell, especially the feet and ankles.

Symptoms    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

The diagnosis is primarily based on the appearance of the skin. Your doctor may order tests to examine the blood flow in your legs.

Treatment    Return to top

The condition that is causing the problem and swelling must be controlled. Treatments may include:

Circulation in the area may improve as swelling goes down. Raising the legs above the level of the heart can help reduce the swelling. Gradually increasing gentle activity, such as walking, can improve circulation.

Elastic stockings may be recommended to improve blood flow from the legs, which will reduce swelling.

Treatments for the skin may include wet dressings and topical antibiotics to control infection in open ulcers. Keep the skin area clean.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Stasis dermatitis is often a long-term (chronic) condition. You may minimize symptoms by controlling the condition and swelling.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop leg swelling or symptoms of stasis dermatitis. Watch for signs of infection:

Prevention    Return to top

To prevent this condition, control the causes of peripheral edema.

Update Date: 10/11/2008

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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