Stasis Dermatitis

This patient information on Stasis Dermatitis provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.

What is it?

Stasis dermatitis is a skin eruption usually confined to the area of the legs below the knee. Typically there is some swelling of the legs with a scaling, sometimes weeping rash. The eruption is often itchy and sometimes painful. The skin may become discolored and may be red or inflamed. It can last for months or even years. In some patients it can become so severe the skin breaks down forming ulcers called “stasis ulcers”. In long standing cases the skin may become very thick, immobile and fibrotic called dermatoliposclerosis.

What causes it?

Stasis dermatitis is due to “poor circulation” in the legs. Most typically from the veins not being able to drain the fluids out of the legs. As the fluids build up it impairs the normal circulation and delivery of nutrients to the skin. The skin reacts by becoming inflamed.

Is it dangerous?

For the typical healthy person stasis dermatitis is not dangerous. It can be complicated by many problems such as stasis ulcers or secondary infection. Individuals with chronic stasis dermatitis are frequently at risk of developing allergic contact dermatitis from the many topical medicines used in its treatment. Patients with chronic stasis dermatitis that does not respond to treatment should consider having patch testing done.

Can it be cured?

With treatment of the underlying cause stasis dermatitis can usually be improved.

Will it spread?

Stasis dermatitis stays confined to the lower legs.

Is it contagious?

Stasis dermatitis is not contagious and you cannot “catch it” from anyone.

© John “Lucky” Meisenheimer, M.D.  2019