Stasis dermatitis is a very common skin condition usually afflicting a person's legs, ankles, or feet. It can also be called varicose dermatitis or varicose eczema.
Even mild cases may indicate a more serious issue. Essentially, it is an external sign of an internal problem with your circulation.
You might notice a dry, discolored patch of skin which may feel itchy or irritated. At first, it can seem like a cosmetic concern, so perhaps you try your favorite skin lotions or creams, to no avail.
Most skin problems are in fact only a symptom of a broader health issue that may be affecting your body in many more subtle ways.
The underlying cause of variciose dermatitis is usually inefficient circulation. Literally, beneath a patch of inflamed or irritated skin are varicose veins.
When your blood isn't being effectively pumped upward, from your feet and legs to your heart, it can begin to pool in your vein. The vein can swell and weaken, causing fluid to leak and accumulate in the tissue near the affected veins.
The veins that carry blood back to your heart have one-way valves that help your circulation work against the force of gravity. If a valve stops working properly, your blood won't be pushed through the vein as efficiently.
There are many reasons for this to happen. It is most common among both men and women over age 50.
Women tend to develop circulation problems that contribute to varicose veins and stasis dermatitis earlier than men. This may be due to the hormonal and overall physical changes a woman's body goes through during pregnancy.
If you don't get much physical exercise on a daily basis, if you sit or stand for long periods, it can also be an important factor in decreasing vein valve efficiency over time.
Your body is an intricately inter-related system and every part has an impact on every other part. When something isn't working properly, it has an inevitable effect on other aspects of your overall health.
The treatment of stasis dermatitis associated with varicose veins must address the underlying cause as well as the skin symptoms.
It is typical for any kind of dermatitis to be treated with a topical steroid or pyrithione zinc prescribed by a doctor, depending on the severity of symptoms. With this type of dermatitis however, there is often an increased risk of allergic reaction called contact dermatitis.
Doctors commonly recommend wearing compression stockings to help normalize blood flow. They may also prescribe various medications for related issues, like heart problems or blood pressure. Antibiotics may also be given if there is a risk of infection.
In addition to pharmaceutical treatments, doctors will usually offer some tips about simple lifestyle changes.
With the possible exception of moisturizing, which can be tricky with sensitive skin, these are very good suggestions.
People often underestimate the impact of small lifestyle changes however, and depend mostly on medications and medical treatments to correct the problem. Sometimes people even consider vein surgery an easier option.
The right lifestyle changes can make a greater difference in your overall health though, in addition to relieving and preventing stasis dermatitis symptoms.
There are fewer risks associated with a natural or holistic treatment approach than traditional medical methods, but it's very important to be cautious.
Even herbal remedies can potentially cause an adverse reaction for those who suffer from stasis dermatitis and other skin problems. You should consult a professional before experimenting.
If your doctor isn't willing to discuss natural alternatives with you, try to find a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, or certified holistic health practitioner.
Some examples of alternatives to topical medications like hydrocortisone steroids include:
There are many alternative methods to improve circulation, reduce varicose veins, and prevent stasis dermatitis as well.
You could see a massage therapist or acupuncturist on a regular basis to relieve discomfort and tension, encourage better blood flow, and prevent varicose veins from getting worse.
Nutrition and exercise are vitally important for your health and well-being. If you are overweight, it can certainly contribute to your circulation problems, so it's advisable that you try to lose weight.
You may think it's easier said than done, especially if you've tried several different weight loss programs in the past. I'm not talking about a special diet or program, because the fact is most of them do not promote health.
Most weight loss programs literally starve your body of the things you really need in order to be healthy.
Some simple changes to your diet can help reduce stasis dermatitis and improve your overall health, such as:
To help promote better circulation, you can try simple exercises such as lying on your back with your legs pointed upward for 2 or 3 minutes at a time. This will give the veins in your legs a chance to push any pooled blood through more easily.
This is very much like a yoga pose called Viparita Karana. Other yoga poses can help as well, like Sarvangasana and Savasana.
It is best to stick with low-impact exercises, like walking or swimming. More intense cardiovascular activities like aerobics and jogging will raise your blood pressure and this can exacerbate stasis dermatitis.