Stasis dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin disease that occurs on the lower extremities. It is usually the earliest skin related sign of chronic venous insufficiency due to venous hypertension. Water, protein and red and white cells leak through the walls of the veins under this increased pressure and cause discoloration and thickening of the skin which are precursors to more problematic conditions, such as venous leg ulceration and bleeding.
Stasis dermatitis can affect patients of all ages, although it typically affects middle-aged and elderly patients. Often patients with stasis dermatitis are misinformed that they have a primary dermatologic problem related to diabetes and that there is little hope for cure. Alternatively, it is a misconception that stasis dermatitis is usually related to deep (rather than superficial) venous problems and thus is not treatable.
In fact, as many as 90% of patients with stasis dermatitis have treatable superficial venous insufficiency. Rather than perform a skin biopsy of patients with stasis dermatitis, what is needed is a diagnostic venous ultrasound for insufficiency by an experienced registered vascular technologist with a keen interest in the disease. Complications of chronic stasis dermatitis include cellulitis and nonhealing venous ulcers. Chronic non-healing venous leg ulcers pose an infection risk to patients some of whom may have artificial joints, as the open wounds serve as a portal of entry to the blood stream.
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