From underlying blood clots through to jumpy legs that keep you awake at night and itchy, scratchy legs – varicose veins can impact human health in more ways than most people bargain for, says Dr David Huber from The Art of Vein Care Gregory Hills, Wollongong and Orange.
Here’s 6 common health conditions linked to varicose veins that you need to know about.
“Also known as stasis dermatitis, this type of eczema is an inflammatory skin disease caused by poor functioning veins that leads to blood pooling and fluid build-up in the legs,” says Dr Huber.
This can lead to dryness, itching, crusting and swelling of the ankles. It can also cause red or brown spots on the legs, ankles and shins.
Left untreated, this can also lead to skin ulcers which are chronic and are hard to heal, so talk to your GP about any persisting itching or redness,” says Dr Huber.
2 Venous Ulcers
These ulcers tend to start with a bit of discolouration just above the ankle (usually on the inside) and are often accompanied by itching, swelling or broken skin.
“These ulcers are typically very long healing, painful and can have discharge,” says Dr Huber.
Treating your chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins) and improving circulation will help heal these skin conditions and will also help improve the unsightly appearance of veins and spider veins at the same time, he says.
People don’t usually put vein issues and psoriasis in the same sentence, but people with psoriasis are at 20% greater risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots), a recent study in JAMA Dermatology has reported.
Another study from the National Institutes of Health in the US found a link between psoriasis and blood vessel inflammation which found that the worse the psoriasis was on the outside, the more likely there was to be inflammatory processes occurring on the inside.
“This study found that people with varicose veins, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking were at particular risk, so anyone who is concerned about their vein pain, leg itching or varicose veins could benefit from a leg ultrasound to rule out any more serious underlying issues – especially if they also have concurrent psoriasis,” says Dr Huber.
4 Blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis
Blood is more likely to clot in a varicose vein and people with varicose veins are five times more likely to develop blood clots than those who don’t have varicose veins, according to a JAMA study of 425,000 people over 12 years.
Blood clots can become painful, warm to the touch and often the vein becomes hard. With travel back on the agenda, remember the risk of DVT is even higher with travel.
Studies show that 4 to 20% of people reported travel before developing a (usually superficial) blood clot. *
5 Profuse Bleeding
“There is a larger than normal amount of blood in varicose veins, that pools right below the surface of the skin,” says Dr Huber.
“So just a nick shaving, a scratch or a bump on the table can cause some prolific bleeding. Or even a very hot shower can sometimes cause a varicose vein to burst.
“As opposed to an arterial cut which spurts, venous blood is darker and if the vein is on the lower leg, the bleeding can be a very impressive constant flow. With any bleeding vein it’s vital to seek urgent medical attention to avoid blood loss and possible loss of consciousness. People are often very surprised to see how much a varicose vein can bleed.”
When the tissues are stretched from swollen veins which happens with chronic venous insufficiency, the skin is fragile, can become firm, dry, itchy and eczema prone.
In turn, this means that bacterial infections can enter the body causing a skin infection called cellulitis. It is the skin that becomes infected and is usually related to the swelling of the tissue around the ankle. Typically, cellulitis causes redness and warmth, tiredness, sometimes fever and chills.
It can become life-threatening left untreated,
Itchy veins, restless legs or heaviness in the legs? Book a comprehensive veins assessment and 30-minute Duplex vein ultrasound to map the flow of blood through the veins. Find out more at www.theartofveincare.com.au
*All procedures have risks, all results are individual, speak to your doctor about your vein concerns.