Varicose eczema is a long-term skin condition that affects the lower legs and is common in people with varicose veins.It is also called gravitational eczema and stasis eczema. It is caused by increased pressure in the leg veins.

Signs and symptoms

  • the affected skin becomes:
    • itchy
    • red and swollen
    • dry and flaky
    • scaly or crusty
  • Your legs may become swollen, especially towards the end of the day or after long periods of standing.
  • Visible varicose veins

Some people also have other symptoms, such as:

  • brown discolouration of the skin
  • red, tender and tight skin that can eventually become hardened (lipodermatosclerosis)
  • small, white scars (atrophie blanche)
  • pain
  • eczema affecting other parts of the body


  • History and Physical Examination
    • The doctor can usually make a diagnosis by simply looking at the affected areas.
    • History of:
      • Varicose veins
      • Deep vein thrombosis- a blood clot in one of the deep veins of your legs
      • Leg ulcers- damaged skin that take several weeks to heal
      • Cellulitis- infection of the deeper layers of the skin and underlying tissue surgery or injury to your legs
  • ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI)- involves comparing blood pressure readings taken from your ankles and upper arms
  • Referral to a specialist
    • You may be referred to a specialist in a local hospital for further tests. This might be a vascular specialist (a doctor or surgeon specialising in conditions affecting the blood vessels) or a dermatologist (a specialist in skin conditions) if:
      • you have varicose veins and changes to your skin, such as varicose eczema, lipodermatosclerosis (hard, tightened skin) or a history of leg ulcers
      • you have very poor blood flow in the blood vessels in your legs
      • your symptoms don’t get better, despite treatment
      • it is possible that you may have contact dermatitis

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