Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis is a skin eruption on one or both lower legs caused by venous insufficiency and/or swelling of the legs. It is often a chronic and relapsing condition.


can include itchy, red, scaly, sometimes blistered plaques on one or both lower legs. There is often underlying swelling of the leg(s) and sometimes associated varicose veins. Over time, brown discoloration can develop. If left untreated, dermatitis can evolve into open wounds and even chronic ulcers.


Stasis dermatitis is caused by venous insufficiency, which is when the veins in our legs do not pump blood out of our legs as well as it should. This causes fluid to collect in the skin, which causes an immune response, resulting in inflammation and resulting dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis can be associated with chronic swelling of the legs, varicose veins, history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or history of cellulitis.]


The most important part of treating stasis dermatitis is reducing swelling in the legs. Avoiding standing for prolonged periods of time, keeping legs elevated while sitting and exercising/walking are all helpful measures. Most patients will require compression socks or stockings long term and working with your primary care doctor on potential treatment of the peripheral swelling. When flaring, your dermatologist may recommend a compression bandage called an Unna boot which is applied in the office.

Topical steroid creams may be prescribed to help clear the rash and improve itching/scaling. Regular use of moisturizing creams is important for repairing the barrier of the skin. Occasionally, oral antibiotics may be necessary for secondary infection.

Notable Points:

Reducing and avoiding swelling in the legs is critical to improving stasis dermatitis and preventing it from getting worse. Light compression socks/travel socks are easy to apply and can be purchased at pharmacies and sports stores. Moderate to high compression socks can be found at medical supply stores or online at

Please call our office at 704-784-5901 if you notice new non-healing wounds or ulcerations on the lower legs, foul odor, increasing/spreading redness, severe pain, or associated fevers.