The Underlying Cause of Skin Discoloration

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Woman sitting and holding her leg with words "the underlying cause of skin discoloration."

Your body’s venous system is responsible for pushing oxygen-depleted blood back toward your heart. Every vein in your body has a one-way vessel, which is known as a valve. These valves are responsible for pushing the blood in the right direction without letting it flow backward.

But when these valves don’t work the way they should, veins become incompetent—this condition is known as venous insufficiency. Besides creating different health complications, venous insufficiency can cause skin disorders as well.

Treating vein disease in a timely manner can help prevent future health complications. Sometimes vein conditions are left untreated because they’re thought to be nothing more than a cosmetic problem. Others think that circulation issues and varicose veins are just a part of the aging process. Venous insufficiency will only get worse the longer they are not treated and not addressing vein issues can become debilitating over time.

Not only does underlying vein disease cause leg pain, aching, heaviness, restlessness at night, or cramping, but venous insufficiency can also cause different skin disorders like discoloration and ulcers. We’ll explore “tried-and-true” ways for treating vein problems before they can wreak havoc on your skin. So, let’s dive in.

Skin changes

Venous insufficiency can harden the soft skin tissues found in your leg’s lower part; this condition is medically known as lipodermatosclerosis. Any change in your skin’s texture or pigmentation is an external sign of an underlying vein condition such as varicose veins. Some people experience hardening of the skin, or extreme dryness – these symptoms typically originate when veins aren’t treated early on.

Discoloration, venous ulcers, and other skin disorders are more likely to be inflicted on those who are already showing vein-specific symptoms in their leg; these symptoms include discomfort, chronic pain, cramps, heaviness, and swelling. Now, let’s discover the connection between venous insufficiency and skin changes.

The connection between skin changes and venous insufficiency

When your vein malfunctions, its’ walls will stretch or weaken. This will cause the walls and valves of the vein to weaken. This distress on the veins’ structure can lead to inflammation in your body; this inflammation will eventually further damage the vein walls, leading to large, bulging varicose veins or bruise-like spots across the lower extremities.

Once a vein’s valves expand, their ability to withhold blood from moving backward toward your feet will decrease. The stretching of the vein’s wall will lead to blood pooling. This venous expansion, in turn, will allow some of the collected blood to seep into your soft tissues. Blood pooling is the main reason for enlarged, varicose veins. This is precisely when the skin’s appearance will begin to change. Red blood cells containing iron and hemosiderin (the body’s iron-storage complex), can break down causing even more advanced issues.

Stasis dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis is a bluish red rash-like spot that may be found on your lower legs if you suffer from untreated venous insufficiency. This condition is mostly found to affect people in their early 40s to late 50s and is more commonly found in women than men.

In its initial stages, stasis dermatitis may make your skin’s appearance thin and dry. You may even find the skin to get itchy, but it’s best to not scratch it. Scratching the affected skin part can cause cracking; which can lead to infection or non-healing wounds. Some people try skin creams and lotions; however, if the underlying venous insufficiency is not fixed, then stasis dermatitis will continue to cause problems.

Left untreated, venous stasis can result in the skin becoming a brownish appearance with a hardened, thickened texture. That brownish discoloration of the skin is commonly referred to as stasis pigmentation or Hemosiderin Deposits. This dark, brownish, purple discoloration may look like a cloudy spot just underneath the skin’s surface.
The brownish, hardened skin may appear lumpy. And finally when stasis dermatitis reaches its later stages, the skin might break down and an ulcer or a deep wound might form.

Causes of stasis dermatitis

Many people first notice signs of skin disorders caused by venous insufficiency when their legs feel heavy or fatigued at the end of the day. Some of our patients have described the feeling of tingling on the backs of their legs, which is a sensation some may experience. This condition is a type of skin inflammation that’s formed because of poor blood circulation in your body. Chronic venous insufficiency is the main reason why your body’s circulatory system underperforms. Ultimately, when your body’s veins malfunction, there are many issues that can arise.

USA Vein Clinics: It’s about treating vein disease safely

Whether it’s varicose veins, spider veins, or venous ulcers, USA Vein Clinics treats a variety of vein disease conditions. By utilizing minimally invasive, outpatient treatments, our vascular specialists can relieve discomfort without surgery, so they can return to their normal, daily activities immediately. Varicose treatments take between 15-30 minutes depending on the number of veins affected. We have helped over 100,000 people across the United States at over 71 locations get lasting relief from vein symptoms.

If you’re looking for a varicose vein laser treatment, then Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) may be the right for you. Our experienced physicians will create a personalized, vein treatment plan that fits your individual needs.

If you or a loved one is suffering from skin discoloration or other vein disease symptoms, call (888) 768-3467 or feel free to schedule an appointment online.

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