9 Proven Treatments for Stasis Dermatitis

Poor vein circulation in your lower legs can lead to swelling and itchiness—called stasis dermatitis. Learn what you can do to relieve your symptoms.

Statis dermatitisPhoto: Shutterstock

1. Don’t stand or sit around too long

“Stasis dermatitis is caused by poor vein circulation in the lower legs,” says Melanie Palm, MD, MBA, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon at Art of Skin MD, in San Diego. “Excessive standing or sitting could worsen the condition.” (Here are 10 things that happen to your body when you start walking 10,000 steps a day.)

2. Get moving

Exercise has benefits for stasis dermatitis patients, too. “I counsel my patients that wherever they are, they should be pumping their legs and doing calf raises,” says Mohiba Tareen, MD, a dermatologist at Tareen Dermatology. “This helps the veins pump the blood back to the heart. You will often see me standing in line at the grocery store or speaking on the phone and doing my ‘covert’ leg exercises to prevent leaky veins!”

3. Try compression hose

“Consistent use of compression hose is essential,” Dr. Palm says. “Thigh high varieties are far better than knee-high. Long-term control of stasis dermatitis often involves wearing graduated compression stockings to help assist the return of fluid from the lower leg back to the circulation.” (Learn about varicose veins and the treatment options available.)

4. Put your feet up

“Get used to sleeping with your legs elevated on several pillows,” Dr. Tareen says. “We sleep for six to eight hours a day and keeping the blood flowing while asleep is a great bonus!” (Here are five ways to protect your arteries from a fatty meal.)

5. Try some supplements

“Patients may consider supplementing their diet with rutin and vitamin C, both of which help with overall vein health,” Dr. Palm says. (Find out the secrets for healthy, glowing skin.)

6. Lose weight

Excess weight—especially obesity—can lead to the leaky veins that cause venous stasis dermatitis. (This is the absolute best diet for weight loss!)

7. Slather on the moisturizer

“My main message to individuals with stasis dermatitis is to moisturize and keep the skin healthy with simple topicals with few allergens such as Vaseline, Vanicream, or Cerave products,” Dr. Tareen advises. “If the itch is still not going away, judicious use of topical steroids under the direction of your doctor may help.” (Pamper yourself with these simple, homemade facial masks.)

8. Watch out for foods that cause you to retain fluids

Foods that are high in sodium can cause you to retain water—we’re talking fast food and processed foods like lunch meat, crackers, chips, canned vegetables, and soups. (You may look crazy doing these things to lose weight, but they’ll actually work for you!)

9. Try laser therapy

To heal your stasis dermatitis treatment permanently, medical intervention may be necessary. “The real cause is the deep veins that have become incompetent over time,” Dr. Tareen says. “The skin is really an ‘innocent bystander’ that becomes inflamed and ulcerated from the chronic pressure of the leaky veins. Thus all therapy must be directed at the root cause—fixing the veins. There are great advances in laser therapy for incompetent deep veins.”

Check out 33 Secrets Hospitals Don’t Want to Tell You (But Every Patient Should Know).

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest