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Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Venous eczema

What is venous eczema?

Venous eczema is a common form of eczema / dermatitis that affects one or both lower legs in association with venous insufficiency. It is also called gravitational dermatitis.

What causes venous eczema?

Venous eczema appears to be due to fluid collecting in the tissues and activation of the innate immune response.

Normally during walking the leg muscles pump blood upwards and valves in the veins prevent pooling. A clot in the deep leg veins (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) or varicose veins may damage the valves. As a result back pressure develops and fluid collects in the tissues. An inflammatory reaction occurs.

Who gets venous eczema?

Venous eczema is most often seen in middle-aged and elderly patients—it is reported to affect 20% of those over 70 years. It is associated with:

What are the clinical features of venous eczema?

Venous eczema can form discrete patches or become confluent and circumferential. Features include:

Venous eczema
Venous eczema
Venous eczema and lipodermatosclerosis
Venous ulcer
Venous ulcer
Venous disease

Complications of venous eczema

How is venous eczema diagnosed?

Diagnosis of venous eczema is clinical.

Patch tests may be undertaken if there is suspicion of contact allergy.

What is the treatment for venous eczema?

Reduce swelling in the leg

Treat the eczema

Treatment for varicose veins

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Author: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Updated July 2014.

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