Skin Discoloration

On the legs, skin discoloration could indicate underlying vein disease.

Skin discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, is often thought of as occurring on the face from sun exposure. When it appears on the legs, skin discoloration is an indication of late-stage chronic venous insufficiency.

When vein valves fail and blood isn’t directed back to the heart, blood can leak into the tissue around your veins. The pressure can cause capillaries to burst, resulting in discoloration that usually appears as a darker-than-normal shade of brown or reddish brown. It’s important to get any skin discoloration in the leg examined, as these changes can be permanent and may lead to other symptoms, such as itching legs and sores or ulcers above the ankle on the inside of the leg.

Who Is at Risk?

There are many factors that can contribute to the onset of vein disease, including obesity, pregnancy, high blood pressure, and a family history of CVI. Those who are most at risk for developing CVI are women over 50, people who are sedentary, and individuals whose jobs require them to work on their feet, such as EMS workers, retailers, and foodservice workers.

How Can I Treat Skin Discoloration?

While there are a few measures you can take to temporarily alleviate CVI symptoms such as skin discoloration, the only way to experience lasting relief is with a minimally invasive procedure to improve circulation. Performed by an interventional radiologist, the procedures we offer include endovenous radiofrequency ablation (RFA), ambulatory phlebectomy, and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy.

To alleviate symptoms in the meantime, we recommend the following:

  • Elevate your feet several times a day for 15-30 minutes at a time
  • Wear compression stockings, which will combat blood pooling and improve circulation
  • Ask your doctor to apply a gauze dressing steeped in zinc oxide paste

Don’t simply brush off skin discoloration as a cosmetic concern. If you think vein disease could be the culprit, stop by for a consultation soon!