Why Do My Leg Veins Itch?

Varicose and Spider veins have many associated symptoms.  Most people realize that their legs may ache or feel heavy, but varicose veins and spider veins also cause leg swelling, skin discoloration, venous eczema, restless leg syndrome and venous ulcers.

Itching is a very aggravating symptom of varicose veins and spider veins.  Many people seen in our Milwaukee and Sheboygan region vein clinic have tried many treatments. However, most people have not been successful in getting rid of the annoying itch.  In fact, some people have scratched so hard they have broken skin.  Many of our vein clinic patients are surprised to find out that itching is a very common early symptom of venous insufficiency.

Venous insufficiency occurs when the one-way valves in the leg veins are not functioning allowing blood to flow backwards towards the feet.  This backwards flow of blood leads to high pressure in the venous system (venous hypertension).    This venous hypertension  creates inflammation in the skin.  The inflammation in the skin is known as venous stasis dermatitis (stasis – means not flowing, dermatitis – inflammation of the skin).  Venous eczema is often seen.  Most patients think the eczema is only a skin problem.  However, what they do not realize is the treatment for their “skin problem” is vein treatments.

Cause:

The exact cause of the itching has been extensively studied and now it is felt that the increased venous pressure causes the dermal (skin) capillaries (tiny blood vessels) to leak causing scarring and eventually decreased oxygen levels in the skin.  This sequence of reactions causes the skin to itch.  Many people feel the itching is not a serious problem.  However, if the itching is secondary to venous insufficiency, this is a symptom that should be treated before worse skin lesions develop.  If venous stasis dermatitis is left untreated, eventually the skin will not heal and venous stasis ulcers can develop.

Next step:

Clinical evaluation by a vein specialist  and a venous duplex ultrasound are your next step. The vein mapping ultrasound defines which vessels are causing the problem and a treatment plan can be made specifically for you.  Minimally invasive varicose veins and spider veins treatments are available.  You do not need to live with that annoying varicose vein itch or spider vein itch.  Our Milwaukee area vein clinic, Lakeshore Veins, and their vein experts are available to answer your questions.  We can be reached at (262) 241-3999 or through our contact us page.

Have Questions? Feel free to contact us