Causes of varicose eczema 

Varicose eczema is usually caused by increased pressure in your leg veins.

Inside your veins there are valves that let the blood through in one direction and prevent it flowing backwards.

Sometimes, the walls of the veins can become stretched and lose their elasticity, causing the valves to become weakened. If the valves do not function properly, blood may leak backwards.

This increases the pressure in your veins, which may cause fluid to leak into surrounding tissues. It is thought that varicose eczema may develop as a result of your immune system reacting to these fluids in the tissues under your skin.

This increase in pressure can also cause blood to collect in your veins, which become swollen and enlarged (varicose veins).

Who's most at risk?

It is not fully understood why the walls of the veins stretch and the valves weaken. Some people develop the condition for no obvious reason, although there are certain factors that increase the chances of this happening, including:

  • gender – varicose eczema is more common in women
  • obesity – this can increase the pressure in your leg veins
  • pregnancy – this can also increase the pressure in your leg veins
  • not being able to move for a long period of time – this can affect the circulation in your leg veins
  • having previously had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – blood clots that develop in leg veins, which can damage the valves in your veins
  • increasing age – people generally find it harder to move about as they get older, which can affect their circulation

Page last reviewed: 20/10/2014

Next review due: 20/10/2016