Gravitational dermatitis (or eczema) is an itchy rash occurring on the lower legs. It arises when there is venous disease so it also called ‘venous eczema' and sometimes ‘stasis eczema'.
Normally during walking the leg muscles pump blood upwards and valves in the veins prevent pooling. A clot in the deep leg veins (deep venous thrombosis or DVT) or varicose veins may damage the valves. As a result back pressure develops and fluid collects in the tissues.
The affected leg is usually swollen, particularly after prolonged standing and during hot weather. Swelling is due to inflammation and lymphoedema. Dermatitis can arise as discrete patches or affect the leg circumferentially. The affected skin is red and scaly, and may ooze, crust and crack. It is frequently itchy.
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