Varicose veins can lead to a skin condition called stasis dermatitis, also known as varicose eczema. When left untreated, this type of rash can lead to cracked skin, non-healing wounds, and dangerous skin infections.
At USA Vein Clinics, our leading vein specialists provide treatment for varicose veins, red rashes, spider veins, itchy rashes, and a range of other venous conditions.
How Can I Identify a Varicose Vein Rash on My Legs?
Varicose veins can lead to a range of skin changes. This is because diseased veins can allow fluids to leak into surrounding tissue, preventing oxygen from reaching the skin. When your skin is deprived of enough oxygen, you may begin to see related skin issues, including:
- Skin rashes
- Skin discoloration
- Open, non-healing wounds
Varicose vein rashes usually develop around the lower legs and ankles. They can be mild to severe, and are often accompanied by other vein symptoms like leg swelling, cramping, and fatigue.
Your varicose veins ankle rash or leg rash may be:
If you have varicose veins and notice a skin rash on legs, we recommend contacting a vein specialist for a consultation.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The underlying cause of varicose veins is vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency. Generally more common in women and older adults, varicose veins affect approximately 23% of adults in the US.
Vein disease is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms get worse over time. It develops when vein valves are placed under chronic strain and become damaged. Age, genetics, and lifestyle factors can play roles in this process.
Vein valves in the legs are important since they keep blood flowing in the right direction: back to the heart. There, blood is reoxygenated. When one-way vein valves become damaged, blood can begin to pool or flow the wrong way. This can lead to the formation of varicose veins, spider veins, and a range of other venous issues.
Varicose veins are often thought of as only an aesthetic issue. However, they can cause a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms that eventually impact your quality of life. Most commonly, the legs, ankles, and feet are affected. Individuals who suffer from vein issues may encounter difficulty standing, sitting, or walking.
If you have varicose veins, you may experience:
- Heavy legs
- Itching and burning
- Pain relief when legs are elevated
Along with causing the above symptoms, vein disease can increase your risk of developing blood clots and venous ulcers. These are serious health issues that require prompt medical attention.
Could It Be Vein Disease? Take Our Symptoms Quiz
How Does a Venous Insufficiency Rash Develop?
When blood pools in your lower legs due to venous insufficiency, fluid can begin to leak into the surrounding skin. The resulting inflammation can prevent sufficient oxygen from reaching your skin in the region. The appearance of a rash near varicose veins may be a sign that your skin is deprived of oxygen.
The development of a venous insufficiency rash can also indicate progressing vein disease and should be evaluated as soon as possible by a vein specialist.
What Types of Vein Disease Rash Complications Can Occur?
When varicose vein rashes are left untreated, there are two main types of complications that can occur: venous ulcers and blood clots.
Over time, a vein disease rash can progress into a venous ulcer. Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that most often occur on the lower legs or ankles. It is important to be aware of their symptoms, since the early stages of venous ulcers often go undetected.
Initially, skin changes may seem minor and appear similar to a bug bite, bruise, or patch of irritated skin. As ulceration progresses, you may experience increased bruising and/or reddened, dry, and cracked skin. Eventually, the affected skin will begin to die, causing the wound to open and become deeper and more inflamed. Without treatment, venous ulcers can take a long time to heal, or may not heal at all.
Venous ulcers can lead to skin infections, such as cellulitis. Cellulitis is a serious, deep skin infection caused by bacteria. Symptoms include redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, fever, headache, chills, and weakness.
Unfortunately, venous ulcers do not typically respond to lotions or creams. Instead, treatment usually involves a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure to close off blood flow to nearby, diseased veins.
The presence of vein disease can also place you at increased risk for dangerous blood clots, including Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT symptoms include leg pain, swelling, warmth, and redness. Another issue to be on the lookout for is deep vein thrombosis skin rash, which may appear similar to a varicose vein skin rash.
If you notice signs of DVT, you should head directly to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. You may receive a blood thinner, get sent home, and be advised to follow up with your primary care physician if it’s determined that you do not require immediate care. Your doctor may recommend ongoing care with a vein specialist, such as those at USA Vein Clinics.
When left untreated, a blood clot in the deep venous system can break off and travel to the lungs. This can lead to a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism.
Symptoms of pulmonary embolism include chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. If you experience these issues, call 911 immediately or head directly to the nearest emergency room.
How Can I Prevent Skin Rashes from Varicose Veins?
Early treatment of varicose veins can help avoid future skin rashes. We recommend exploring your options promptly to prevent irritated skin, skin discoloration, and other venous insufficiency symptoms. Treatment can also reduce the risk of your venous skin rash evolving into a potentially dangerous venous ulcer.
Along with vein treatment, we also want you to be aware that your lifestyle choices can influence your risk of developing skin rashes. While we understand that some risk factors, such as genetics and aging, are beyond your control, there are other areas in which you may be able to make improvements.
To help prevent venous skin rashes, we recommend:
- Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a well-rounded diet
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting
- Managing related health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Consulting a vein specialist for personalized recommendations
Healthy habits and effective treatment make the prevention and management of venous skin rashes possible. If you feel you may need additional support in guiding your recovery or early treatment steps, our vein specialists can provide the helping hand you need.
Can Varicose Veins Rashes Be Treated?
If you are suffering from a varicose veins-related itchy rash, there are minimally invasive treatment options available. To alleviate itching and dryness from varicose vein rash on legs, we recommend treating the underlying cause: your vein disease.
For the vast majority of patients, invasive surgery is unnecessary. Instead, a range of non-surgical, outpatient care can be used to resolve pain and discomfort. At USA Vein Clinics, most of our treatments take less than an hour, from start to finish. Afterward, you can leave immediately and resume most normal daily activities.
Along with treatment, your vein specialist may also recommend one or more of the following to help alleviate painful and uncomfortable symptoms:
- Compress: Wearing compression socks can help improve leg symptoms due to varicose veins. Your doctor can prescribe the best level of compression for your individual situation.
- Exercise or Be Active: Physical activity is beneficial for your vein health. Aim for at least 30 minutes daily, five days per week. Walking with a friend is a great way to get started. Along with exercising regularly, avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Instead, try to move around frequently throughout the day.
- Manage Your Weight: When it comes to varicose veins, the benefits of weight loss are clear. Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) can bring relief to painful symptoms and help you avoid related skin rashes. To help achieve a healthy BMI, focus on eating a balanced diet.
- Moisturize: Although lotions and creams won’t resolve venous skin conditions, they may bring some relief to symptoms like itching and dryness. You can discuss specific product recommendations with one of our experts.
- Medicate: Certain medications, such as antihistamines and topical corticosteroids, may help reduce varicose vein skin rashes. Before trying this on your own, be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor as they may suggest prescription options that you are unable to obtain over-the-counter.
Implementing these changes daily can aid issues resulting from your symptoms, but only treatment will give you the results needed to get you back on your feet. If you have questions about any of these potential recommendations, be sure to contact your vein specialist.
Minimally Invasive Vein Treatment Options
At USA Vein Clinics, our primary goal is to improve your quality of life. We understand that varicose veins can cause uncomfortable skin rashes, painful leg ulcers, and other life-altering symptoms. Our leading vein specialists are available to help.
All of our minimally invasive, outpatient treatments work by closing off malfunctioning veins and rerouting blood flow to surrounding, healthy ones. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy: Using ultrasound guidance, one of our experts injects a sclerosant agent into the diseased vein. This causes it to become intentionally irritated and seal closed.
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT): With this state-of-the-art treatment, we use laser energy to target malfunctioning veins and cause them to collapse. Your targeted vein(s) will eventually become reabsorbed by the body.
- ClariVein®: This procedure simultaneously uses mechanical and chemical methods to treat venous issues. It involves a special catheter with a rotating tip at one end that prompts targeted veins to close.
- VenaSeal™ Treatment: Our most recently introduced treatment, this technique uses medical adhesive to seal off diseased veins and redirect blood flow. Afterward, most patients do not require the temporary use of compression socks to aid recovery.
Request a Consultation at USA Vein Clinics
USA Vein Clinics have achieved accreditation by The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) for Vascular Testing, an organization that accredits imaging facilities and hospitals within the vascular health field.
Our nationwide network of highly skilled and experienced vein specialists perform leading-edge vein treatments at over 90 clinic locations. We also offer convenient telemedicine options.
By delivering high-quality, compassionate care, our trusted experts are able to transform and enrich the lives of our patients. We look forward to helping you improve the health of your veins.