Winter in Colorado is a fantastic time of year, but the weather changes and dry heat from indoor heaters take a toll on the skin. It’s bad enough that your skin gets dry and itchy in the winter, but if you are living with varicose veins, the intensity of the itching can sometimes be maddening. You may have expected them to cause some minor pain, but not that they would be itchy too! If you are seeking relief from itchy varicose veins, keep reading. We’ll tell you why it’s happening, and what varicose vein treatment is available so you can stop being distracted by those itchy varicose veins and focus on your winter and holiday fun!
Let’s start with a quick recap about what varicose veins are- that will help you understand why they itch.
If you have them, you don’t need us to tell you what they look like- thick, blue or purple veins that are either just under the skin’s surface or bulging over the top. Varicose veins are caused by damaged valves in the veins that are no longer doing their job well. When valves malfunction, blood isn’t going in the direction that it is supposed to go back to the heart. The blood has to go somewhere, so it pools up in the veins, causing them to get big and even bulge.
Why Do Varicose Veins Itch?
Thankfully, not everyone who has varicose veins experiences this symptom, but we have answers for those who do.
Increased histamine: Your body releases histamine during an allergic reaction. It’s part of the defense system that your body uses to protect and heal itself. Your body considers varicose veins as “broken,” so it sends histamines to repair them. While your body tries to heal the vein, the histamine causes an itchy sensation.
Leaking fluid: Because the blood in a varicose vein has stopped moving back toward the heart, it begins to pool up and accumulate, which increases the pressure in the vein. To reduce the pressure, blood leaks out of the vein and into the soft tissue surrounding it, like the skin. Blood was not meant to come into contact with these tissues, so it irritates them, causing discoloration of the skin, itching, and rashes.
Fluid leakage can also lead to a more serious condition called venous stasis dermatitis (venous eczema). The leaky blood vessel and associated skin inflammation can decrease the amount of oxygen going to the skin, causing the skin to become red and itchy. In some cases, purple or red sores can form and even ooze fluid and scab. As venous stasis dermatitis progresses, the skin on your lower legs and feet can turn red and scaly, and the itch can intensify to uncomfortable levels.
How Do You Get Varicose Veins to Stop Itching?
If you have itchy varicose veins, then this is why you are here, so let’s jump right in.
Don’t scratch! We know that this is easier said than done, but scratching the itchy area usually worsens the itch. Scratching leads to further trauma in the vein, which means the body is going to send more histamine to heal the trauma, which means more itch! You can also accidentally cut your skin while scratching, which may lead to an infection.
Moisturize the area. Choose a thick, perfume-free lotion or salve and apply it to the area at least twice a day. This can help calm the irritated skin and bring you some relief.
Use a topical steroid cream. The steroid in over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream helps to reduce itchiness and inflammation in the skin. Use according to the package instructions for up to 7 days, unless directed otherwise by a physician. You can also look into using other anti-itch creams like Calamine lotion or a topical antihistamine.
Take an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the histamine, which makes your skin itch. You can find a wide range of over the counter antihistamines that can be used for this purpose, or ask your doctor to prescribe you one.
Tired of Dealing with Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins aren’t going to go away on their own.
Although there are many ways to manage the itch, that’s all you will be doing- managing it. The only way to cure varicose veins- and the itch associated with them- is to have them removed. If you have been holding out on removal and treatment because you think it will be too painful or too long a process, think again. There are more non-invasive treatment and removal options than ever. Just take a look at the facts.
Varicose Vein Treatment Facts
Varicose vein treatment involves:
- No hospitalization – done as an outpatient
- No significant downtime
- Does not require bed rest
- Very little risk
- Men and Women can both benefit from treatment
- Performed by a board-certified surgeon
- Covered by insurance carriers
Here are a few examples of highly effective procedures that can rid you of itchy varicose veins forever.
Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive in-office procedure. Your doctor injects a medication into your veins that causes them to shrunk and eventually disappear.
This treatment uses intense light to heat the varicose veins, which causes them to shrink and close. Once the vein is sealed off, blood flows through other nearby (functioning) veins instead.
Endovenous Ablation Therapy
This clinically proven, FDA approved technique permanently eliminates varicose veins. After giving you a local anesthetic, your doctor will use an ultrasound to find the right place to puncture the damaged vein and insert a tiny thin laser. The laser heats up the vein and causes it to collapse. Blood flow will naturally redirect through the healthy veins in the leg.
During this in-office procedure, your doctor will make small incisions in your skin and remove veins that are close to the surface. You will be given local anesthesia to numb the areas near the veins being worked on.
If you’re ready to get rid of the itch and get on with your life, contact us for an appointment. We’ll get you itch- and varicose vein- free in no time!