What is the definition of Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Stasis dermatitis is a change in the skin that results for the pooling of blood in the veins of the lower leg. Ulcers are open sores that can result from untreated stasis dermatitis.

What are the alternative names for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Venous stasis ulcers; Ulcers - venous; Venous ulcer; Venous insufficiency - stasis dermatitis; Vein - stasis dermatitis

What are the causes for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Venous insufficiency is a long-term (chronic) condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart. This may be due to damaged valves that are in the veins. 

Some people with venous insufficiency develop stasis dermatitis. Blood pools in the veins of the lower leg. Fluid and blood cells leak out of the veins into the skin and other tissues. This may lead to itching and inflammation, which cause more skin changes. The skin may then break down to form open sores.

What are the symptoms for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

You may have symptoms of venous insufficiency including:

  • Dull aching or heaviness in the leg
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand or walk
  • Swelling in the leg

At first, the skin of the ankles and lower legs may look thin or tissue-like. You may slowly get brown stains on the skin.

The skin may become irritated or crack if you scratch it. It may also become red or swollen, crusted, or weepy.

Over time, some skin changes become permanent:

  • Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles (lipodermatosclerosis)
  • A bumpy or cobblestone appearance of the skin
  • Skin turns dark brown

Skin sores (ulcers) may develop (called a venous ulcer or stasis ulcer). These most often form on the inside of the ankle.

What are the current treatments for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Your provider may suggest the following to manage the venous insufficiency that causes stasis dermatitis:

  • Use elastic or compression stockings to reduce swelling
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Keep your leg raised when you sit
  • Try varicose vein stripping or other surgical procedures

Some skin care treatments can make the problem worse. Talk with your provider before using any lotions, creams, or antibiotic ointments.

Things to avoid:

  • Topical antibiotics, such as neomycin
  • Drying lotions, such as calamine
  • Lanolin
  • Benzocaine and other products meant to numb the skin

Treatments your provider may suggest include:

  • Unna boot (compressive wet dressing, used only when instructed)
  • Topical steroid creams or ointments
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Good nutrition

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Stasis dermatitis is often a long-term (chronic) condition. Healing is related to the successful treatment of the cause, factors causing the ulcer, and prevention of complications.

What are the possible complications for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Complications of stasis ulcers include:

  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Infection of bone
  • Permanent scar
  • Skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)

When should I contact a medical professional for Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

Call your provider if you develop leg swelling or symptoms of stasis dermatitis.

Watch for signs of infection such as:

  • Drainage that looks like pus
    Drainage that looks like pus
  • Open skin sores (ulcers)
    Open skin sores (ulcers)
  • Pain
  • Redness

How do I prevent Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers?

To prevent this condition, control the causes of swelling of the leg, ankle, and foot (peripheral edema).



Baxi O, Yeranosian M, Lin A, Munoz M, Lin S. Orthotic management of neuropathic and dysvascular feet. In: Webster JB, Murphy DP, eds. Atlas of Orthoses and Assistive Devices. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 26.

Fitzpatrick JE, High WA, Kyle WL. Necrotic and ulcerative skin disorders. In: Fitzpatrick JE, High WA, Kyle WL, eds. Urgent Care Dermatology: Symptom-Based Diagnosis. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 14.

Marks JG, Miller JJ. Ulcers. In: Marks JG, Miller JJ, eds. Lookingbill and Marks' Principles of Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 19.

Marston W. Venous ulcers. In: Almeida JI, ed. Atlas of Endovascular Venous Surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 20.

  • Condition: Class 4 to 6 Chronic Venous Disease
  • Journal: Journal of vascular surgery. Venous and lymphatic disorders
  • Treatment Used: Iliac Vein Stenting with High Ligation and Endovenous Laser Treatment of the Great Saphenous Vein
  • Number of Patients: 71
  • Published —
This study tested the safety and efficacy of using iliac vein stenting with high ligation and endovenous laser treatment of the great saphenous vein to treat patients with class 4 to 6 chronic venous disease.
  • Condition: Chronic wounds
  • Journal: International wound journal
  • Treatment Used: Concentrate growth factors gel or membrane
  • Number of Patients: 18
  • Published —
The study researched the safety and effectiveness of concentrate growth factors gel or membrane for patients with chronic wounds.