April 1

Itchy Varicose Veins


What are itchy varicose veins?

Sure, you’re varicose veins cause pain, swelling, and cramping, but have your varicose veins caused itchiness? Itching from varicose veins may be a somewhat surprising symptom that people with varicose veins experience. 

"Components of the blood, such as hemoglobin & lactic acid, can irritate the skin tissues, causing it to itch."

What causes varicose veins to itch?

What exactly causes varicose veins to itch?  Varicose veins are damaged veins with malfunctioning valves that stretch, causing the blood to pool in the vein. The excess blood in the vein causes high pressure and as a result, some of the blood moves out of the vein into the surrounding tissue, as it seeks to find an area of lower pressure.

The components of the blood, such as hemoglobin, and waste products, such as lactic acid, can irritate these tissues. The irritation leads to swelling of the skin with changes in the color of the skin and itching. Another reason for itching is that the body sends out specific hormones to fix damaged areas of the body, such as the damage in the veins.

One of these hormones is histamine and as this level of hormone increases at the site of damage, the body interprets this as itching. Once the area is scratched, this can cause further damage to the vein, which would increase histamine and therefore also increase itchiness.

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How to treat itchy varicose veins

Even though itchiness can occur from varicose veins, try not to scratch, as this usually worsens the itching. There are a few things that you can do to reduce the itch.

  • 1. Apply lotions or emollients several times per day to keep the skin moisturized.
  • 2. Try to avoid products that have scents and perfumes, as these can be more irritating.
  • 3. A topical steroid cream or anti-itch cream may also be helpful. The steroid cream should be used sparingly and if you are using this for longer than 1 week, you should visit with your doctor.
  • 4. You may also consider using an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Diphenhydramine, which is found in the brand, Benadryl. This can help to reduce the amount of histamines present and reduce itch. Be aware that some of these can cause drowsiness and may be best used at night. 

Other conservative treatments for varicose veins.

Some of these treatments may help to reduce the itch, but the best way to manage itchiness from varicose veins is to treat the underlying disease causing the itch, which is the varicose veins.

The best way to reduce symptoms of varicose veins at home are elevating the legs, doing aerobic activities daily to pump the blood in the legs, wearing compression stockings, and avoiding sitting or standing in one position for too long. Of course, there are other treatments that are available under the supervision of a physician. 

What to do if you experience itchy varicose veins

If you can’t seem to scratch the itch and have tried multiple home remedies or treatments to reduce the itchiness in your varicose veins, visit with your doctor about the potential for other options to treat your itchy varicose veins.

Dr. Jose Almeida, a board certified surgeon, at the Miami Vein Center is a leading expert in the care of varicose veins. He has years of experience helping patients treat and manage itchy varicose veins.


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