An itching sensation can be one of the most frustrating symptoms of varicose veins. But there are simple ways to get relief.
In addition to the aches and swelling caused by varicose veins, itchy skin is a common complaint. This symptom can be very frustrating and difficult to manage, but there are a variety of treatments that can eliminate the discomfort.
Varicose veins are the result of a condition called venous insufficiency. When the circulatory system is working properly, blood travels through a network of arteries that distribute blood from the heart to the tissues. The veins return blood to the heart with the assistance of tiny valves. The valves open to let blood climb upward, then close to ensure the blood doesn’t flow backwards and collect in the veins.
In the case of varicose veins, the valves don’t close properly, which allows the blood to pool in the veins. Eventually, excess blood causes the vein walls to bulge and emerge as the twisted cords of varicose veins.
Overstretched veins leak fluid into the surrounding tissues and skin, setting off a chain reaction of inflammation that the body counters by flooding the area with histamine — the hormone that makes us want to itch. But there are ways to stop the itch and get relief from uncomfortable varicose veins.
Treatment for Itchy Varicose Veins
You don’t have to put up with itchy varicose veins. There are several at-home treatments and minimally-invasive procedures that banish varicose veins — and the itchy sensation that comes along with them.
An important piece of advice to follow if you have varicose veins is to resist the urge to scratch. Scratching already delicate skin may damage the veins even more, and possibly cause bleeding. Plus, the more you scratch, the more histamine is produced by the body, thereby increasing the itchy feeling.
To minimize the itch, you can practice several self-care tips at home. Applying a corticosteroid cream on the affected skin reduces inflammation. An over-the-counter antihistamine counteracts the hormones that cause itching, as well. If the skin becomes infected, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic.
In addition, wearing compression stockings, exercising regularly, and elevating your legs above your heart for short periods all support robust blood flow and reduce many of the symptoms of varicose veins. These methods, however, provide only temporary relief from itching. If you’re looking for a permanent solution to your varicose veins, you may want to consider a number of minimally-invasive surgical procedures. Each is done on an outpatient basis, is quick and virtually painless, and requires little to no recovery time.
Depending on the size of the varicose vein, a vein specialist may recommend one of several treatments. One of the most popular is sclerotherapy, during which a solution or foam is injected into the vein. The sclerosant binds the walls of the vein together, forcing it to close. Similarly, laser or radiofrequency ablation sends a burst of heat into the vein to seal it off. Once the varicose vein collapses, blood reroutes to healthy veins.
Larger veins can be removed during an ambulatory microphlebectomy. After numbing the skin with an anesthetic, the doctor makes multiple small incisions around the vein. The doctor then removes the damaged vein and allows the area to heal.
Make an Appointment With a Vein Specialist
At the Kimmel Institute, we have many years of experience treating varicose veins. The above procedures have been proven safe and effective in eliminating varicose veins with minimal or no scarring. Make an appointment today with one of our specialists to discuss treatment options that can put an end to your varicose vein symptoms.