Red Sands Vein & Laser has many years of experience in varicose vein treatment in Utah. Patients often ask us why their varicose veins become painful and itchy and what they can do about it. Below is some information about what painful and itchy varicose veins indicate, and when it is time to see a doctor.
Varicose veins are a common problem for many people, but particularly for adult women. When veins in your legs become swollen and twisted, they can be seen underneath the surface of the skin. There is typically very little warning before a varicose vein develops. The signs or symptoms are usually quite subtle. When they do occur, they can cause moderate pain, sores (referred to as skin ulcers), blood clots or other issues.
Why Varicose Veins Are Itchy and Painful?
Although most cases of varicose veins do not cause a major health threat they are often unsightly as well as painful and itchy. The following conditions are what create itchy and painful varicose veins:
- Swelling around the ankles or feet
- Excessive dryness
- Throbbing or cramps in the legs
Some of these signs can lead to telangiectasia, a chronic dilatation of the capillaries and other associated small blood vessels. Telangiectasis is often associated with pain, itching, and dryness, and clusters of red veins occur that are visible beneath the surface of the skin. Other complications of varicose veins include blood clots forming in the legs, which can create other health risks if they go untreated.
Varicose veins that are caused by problems associated with what’s referred to as the great saphenous vein (GSV) or other veins contained within in the leg’s GSV system can become problematic and you may want to consider seeing a doctor. The great saphenous vein consists of the leg’s longest vein and is the longest vein in the body. It is the major superficial vein within the medial leg and thigh. It begins at the top of the foot and extends to the upper thigh and groin area. Since the saphenous is also a large blood vessel, any complications in this area can create severe health risks.
What Might Itchy and Painful Varicose Veins Indicate?
When you find that your varicose veins have gotten to a point where they cause irritability and itchiness, that may be a sign that the situation could be worsening and could require medical attention. If your skin is typically very dry, it will likely increase the irritability and itchiness of the veins. Varicose veins that are excessively dry, painful and cause itchiness, are an indicator that you should make an appointment with a doctor to discuss treatment options. (For your convenience, Red Sands Vein & Vascular offers varicose vein treatment in Southern Utah, and appointments are available.)
Some people may have a condition referred to as eczema which is often associated with varicose veins that have gone untreated and have worsened over time. The skin, especially near the ankles will often change drastically where the veins approach a breaking point. This will cause bleeding or ulcers from the veins. More serious symptoms consist of changes in the skin such as inflammation, thin, dry skin, scaling, bleeding after minor injuries or open sores. Additionally, they can be signs of bigger problems such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), where there is a blockage, typically a blood clot, in the deeper veins. This is a sure sign that medical treatment is needed.
DVT normally takes place in the lower leg or in the thigh. In a situation where the vein begins to swell, it is possible to develop a pulmonary embolism. People who sit still for long periods of time are more prone to develop DVT. Additionally, any medications or other disorders that result in blood clots increases the chances of developing DVT.
Typical symptoms associated with DVT consist of the following:
- Tenderness in the area of the vein
- Warmness in the general area of the vein
- Pain and/or swelling in the area containing the vein
- Redness of the skin
Steps That Can Be Taken to Address Varicose Veins
If you suffer from varicose veins that cause pain or irritation, there are steps that you can take to remedy the problem. Even if your vein disease is not causing major medical issues, your doctor may recommend medical procedures based on your condition to reduce pain and other symptoms, and decrease the risk of worsening vein disease.
Varicose veins are associated with various factors that can increase the risk for developing them, such as aging, pregnancy, being overweight, having a family history of varicose veins, having had some leg trauma as well as a lack of movement or little activity to the legs.
If you have conditions such as DVT, treatment options may include being prescribed medicine to ease the pain and any inflammation; extracting the existing blood clots and taking blood thinners to prevent new ones from forming.
Treatment for varicose veins that are associated with more serious disorders, such as those previously indicated above, or other conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency, requires both compression therapy and ongoing management with a medical professional. This may improve the blood flow, however, it will not alleviate or cure the condition. The best way to eliminate this problem is with minimally invasive treatment. (If you are considering varicose vein treatment in Utah, Red Sands Vein & Vascular offers comprehensive state-of-the-art procedural options.) All procedures are performed by board certified physicians.
Your doctor may alternatively recommend that you make some minor lifestyle changes to address varicose veins that don’t cause major medical issues. This might include:
- Apply moist heat to the area that has been affected
- Keep the affected area raised
- Take breaks and/or stretch during long car or plane trips
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time and becoming inactive
- Drink plenty of fluids
Typically a doctor can evaluate the situation just by making an observation of your legs and feet. He or she will usually check for things such as broken veins, swelling, skin discoloration or for tender or sensitive areas to make an initial evaluation. If your issues are not severe, the information provided above may address your needs.