Varicose eczema is a long-term (chronic) skin condition that causes eczema symptoms on your lower legs.
It usually affects people with varicose veins or other circulation problems. Like varicose veins, it’s more common in women than men, and becomes more likely as you get older, with one in five over-70s affected.
While there’s no simple cure, there’s plenty you can do to improve your skin condition, ease symptoms and avoid flare-ups. Symptoms can also be relieved by treating the underlying cause, if known.
It’s important to treat it because, if left, it can lead to leg ulcers – open sores that take several weeks to heal.
If you have varicose eczema, the skin on your lower legs may be:
Your GP will be able to diagnose varicose eczema from looking at your legs and asking about your symptoms. They may carry out an ankle brachial pressure index test to assess the blood flow in your arteries.
Your GP may refer you to a vascular consultant, a doctor who specialises in circulation problems, or to a dermatologist, a doctor who specialises in skin conditions, if:
Varicose eczema is caused by weak valves in the veins in your legs. This means that fluids from your blood can leak into the surrounding tissue, which causes inflammation in your skin and eczema symptoms.
The most common cause is varicose veins, but other conditions that affect blood flow in your legs are:
Pregnancy and age can also affect blood flow in your legs.
The aims of treatment are to improve both the condition of your skin and your circulation. Your GP can prescribe:
You can also ease your symptoms by: