By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Technology gives us ways to do things faster, more conveniently, and more efficiently. On the upside, we can accomplish more things and with ease. The downside is that somehow, we can also get lazy. For example, you can stay in your bed the whole day and keep yourself entertained with television, a DVD player, and watching sports shows live through pay per view. Forget about cooking, too, as you can have fresh food delivered right at your doorstep with just a call or an app! Shopping? Get all of them in just one click! And as for keeping in touch with friends and family, you don’t need to see them all the time—you can always check on them via text or through social networking portals.
While all these things make it easier for us to live and enjoy life, we forget that being too technology-dependent can also take a toll on our health. You may not notice it now, but a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems later on in life.
Statis dermatitis is one of those conditions that develop in the later stages of life due to poor circulation. It is more prevalent among middle to old aged individuals, typically among adults 50 years and older. Females are more likely to develop them, but males are not exempted from having it.
Also called gravitational dermatitis, venous stasis dermatitis, or venous eczema, it usually affects the legs, where the veins have valves that work to pump blood back to the heart. When these valves are damaged or not working properly, problems may arise, causing blood to stay on the legs, called venous insufficiency. When this happens, a lot of symptoms may arise—the legs may swell up, standing or walking may be painful, your legs may feel weak and heavy, plus you may get varicose veins and leg ulcers. Venous inefficiency is one of the conditions that can lead to statis dermatitis, but aside from that, having varicose veins (or a family history of it), blood clots (especially on the legs), high blood pressure, previous injury or surgery on the legs, kidney failure, obesity, heart disease, or a sedentary lifestyle can also cause this condition.
The initial symptoms of statis dermatitis include swelling of the ankle during the day, and red, swollen, and itchy skin on the affected area. The swelling may reach the calves and sores may become more apparent if the condition worsens. When statis dermatitis becomes severe, the affected area becomes hollow, and the skin becomes red, scaly, and very itchy. The patient may also develop contact dermatitis (extreme skin sensitivity to skin products and topical solutions) or cellulitis (a painful bacterial infection on the deeper layers of the skin) because of this condition.
The dermatologist may perform several tests such as a patch test or a Duplex Ultrasound (uses the sound waves of provide photos of blood vessels and check the blood flow) to confirm the condition, but they may also want to know your medical history and if you have had any injuries, surgeries, or present health conditions that can be a possible cause of statis dermatitis. Other exams that the dermatologist may ask for are blood tests, allergy testing, and heart exams.
To treat statis dermatitis, the dermatologist’s main goal is to keep it manageable. Compression socks may be worn by patients to reduce swelling and improve circulation. The doctor may also suggest elevating your legs or feet (slightly higher than the chest) at night. Corticosteroids may be given if there is soreness and pain, antibiotics if there is an infection, antihistamine for severe itchiness, and moisturizer to heal cracked skin. Vein treatment may also be suggested by the physician in case the varicose veins are adding to the patient’s distress. Regular checkups are needed until the patient can manage the condition on their own.
No matter how technology can make almost anything fast and easy, there are no shortcuts when it comes to maintaining good health. Aside from proper eating and a healthy lifestyle (no smoking or drinking, getting the right amount of sleep), staying active is key to keeping fat at a minimum and making sure our body is in top shape and our organs are functioning well. If you are beginning to have a hard time walking, or are starting to develop varicose veins, please visit your dermatologist so it can be checked early.
Statis dermatitis, if not treated early, can be a distressing, lifelong condition. Do not wait for a certain time, age, or reason to start moving. Why not use technology to help you stay more active instead of staying at home? Use fitness apps to find the best exercises you can do at home, and track your progress as well. Believe me, your body will thank you later on.