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Also called gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema, and venous stasis dermatitis
This condition develops in people who have poor circulation. Because poor blood flow usually occurs in the lower legs, this is where stasis dermatitis often develops. It may occur in one or both legs. Stasis dermatitis can develop in other areas, but this is rare.
Stasis dermatitis is most common in the lower legs because leg veins have one-way valves, which play an important role in circulating our blood. These valves push blood up the legs. As we age, these valves can weaken and stop working properly. Some blood can leak out and pool in the legs. Your dermatologist may refer to this as “venous (vee-nis) insufficiency.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with venous insufficiency, it does not mean that you will get stasis dermatitis. Watching for signs and symptoms of stasis dermatitis is important though. Treatment and self-care can prevent the stasis dermatitis from becoming severe.
Swelling around the ankle is often the first sign of stasis dermatitis. The swelling tends to clear while you sleep — and return during the day. Other early signs are discolored skin and varicose veins.
Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Flugman, SL et al. (authors) and Elston DM et al (editors). “Stasis dermatitis.” Medscape. Last updated July 2014.
Fritsch PO and Reider N. “Other eczematous eruptions: Stasis dermatitis.” In: Bologna JL, Jorizzo JL, et. al. Dermatology (second edition), Elsevier Mosby, 2008:201-2.
Weaver J, Billings SD. “Initial presentation of stasis dermatitis mimicking solitary lesions: A previously unrecognized clinical scenario.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Dec;61(6):1028-32.
Trayes KP, Studdiford JS, et. al. “Edema: Diagnosis and management.” Am Fam Physician. 2013 Jul 15;88(2):102-10.