Varicose eczema is an inflammatory condition which occurs on the lower legs. The features vary depending on the severity and may range from changes in skin colouring and dryness of the skin, to areas of inflamed eczema with red spots, scaling, weeping and/ or crusting.
The eczema is often very itchy and can sometimes be painful. Swelling of the legs and varicose veins may also be present. Sometimes thickening of large areas of skin on the lower leg can occur and may be painful. Leg ulcers can also develop. Sometimes, varicose eczema can trigger the development of eczema elsewhere on the body; this is known as secondary eczema.
What causes it?
Varicose eczema occurs when valves in the leg veins do not work properly, reducing drainage of blood from the legs. This leads to an increase in the pressure inside the leg veins resulting in leakage from the veins which leads to inflammation in the surrounding tissue. This inflammation then causes damage to the overlying skin, which ultimately can lead to varicose ulcers. Being overweight, immobility, leg swelling, varicose veins, previous clots in the leg (venous thrombosis) and previous cellulitis are possible contributory factors.
Once diagnosed, a Dermatologist will advise on the best treatment for varicose eczema as there are many factors which can impact the management and healing process of this condition.
Compression stockings are often recommended and assessment by a vascular surgeon is often necessary to try and prevent progression to leg ulceration.’