Brown Spots On Ankles: Should You Be Worried?
Published March 26, 2020
“I noticed brown spots are starting to appear in my ankles and lower legs. Should I be worried?”
As we grow older, skin discoloration can be inevitable. Aging causes our skin to lose moisture and be more susceptible to damage. In fact, sunspots and skin pigmentations are common concerns among adults.
Skin discoloration and dark spots in the legs are also very common. But in certain cases, it can be a symptom of an underlying serious disease.
Before you panic, know that some skin discoloration disorders go away on their own and won’t require medication. Thus, it’s important to know what caused the change in pigmentation to implement proper treatment.
Most skin discolorations in the lower leg are caused by hemosiderin staining. This happens when red blood cells are broken down and the hemoglobin releases iron. The excess iron is then stored as hemosiderin in the tissues under your skin. This causes the visible dark spots that sometimes extend from your lower leg down to your ankles.
Some of the most common disorders associated with hemosiderin staining include:
- sun damage
- cardiovascular disease
But if you have the following symptoms, you may be showing signs of venous stasis dermatitis – an advanced form of vein disease:
- red or brown spots on ankles and lower leg
- skin rashes and irritations
- shiny and scaly skin surface
- oozing sores
What is Venous Stasis Dermatitis?
The blood which circulates in your veins is your body’s way of bringing oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Venous stasis dermatitis happens when the veins in your lower legs are damaged blocking your blood flow. As the blood builds up, it creates pressure in your veins until some of the blood leaks out into your skin.
This condition is more common in people 50 years old or older. If you are standing or sitting for long periods of time and don’t get much exercise, you run a much higher risk of getting this disease. Blood clots, traumatic injury, and surgery may also cause damage to the veins in your lower legs resulting in stasis dermatitis. (Related: Nursing Diagnosis for Dementia)
Treatments for venous stasis dermatitis depend on the severity of the damage in your veins. This is why a diagnostic ultrasound is often recommended before a treatment can be started.
A standard non-invasive treatment for venous ulcers is compression therapy. It’s essential in effectively managing venous insufficiency, blood clots, and vein obstructions. The treatment involves wearing socks or stockings specifically designed to promote proper blood circulation in your legs.
If your venous ulcer is a result of your lifestyle choices, your doctor may recommend making adjustments to your routine. It can include elevating your leg when at rest or avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time.
This minimally-invasive treatment uses radiofrequency to get rid of damaged veins. The surgery usually takes just a couple of hours and has a short recovery time.
Should You Be Worried?
In general, there is nothing to worry about dark and brown spots in your lower leg and ankles. But if it’s causing you discomfort, especially when it starts producing oozing sores, it’s best to visit your doctor immediately.
If your condition is a result of venous stasis dermatitis, the more you have to consult a vein specialist. When left untreated, it can lead to several complications like chronic leg ulcers and infection of the bone or osteomyelitis. (Related: Mottled Skin: Should It Be a Cause For Concern?)
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of knowledge when it comes to whole body donation and she wants to share her experience with the world. She also loves to write about food and art.