Cristian

Itchy skin along varicous vein

I'm a 30 year old male in pretty good shape. For about 10 years I've had a varicous vein down the back of my left leg. It's noticeable from my hamstring area right down to my calf. I've never been worried about the 'cosmetic' aspect, but over the last 12 months or so I've been struggling with itchiness along the vein - particularly around my calf where it appears to end. Sometimes it can be quite bad and my scratching has caused damage to the skin. My question is: Are there any procedures in place that might be able to help and if so, do they carry side effects of their own? I play rugby and am very active so I'm worried that by solving one problem I may be creating another. I'm also mindful that it would appear to be getting slowly worse and I would rather act to get it resolved.

22 August 2019

Varicous veins symptoms

Varicose veins generally appear on the calves of the legs and may cause aching or throbbing legs. The veins have a purple colour to them in the skin and they bulge and look as if they have lumps within them.

Often varicose veins do not cause any discomfort. If there is any discomfort,  is not related to the size of the vein. Sometimes smaller varicose veins can cause more aching than larger ones.

Other symptoms of varicose veins include the itching that you have described, mild swelling of the ankles and cramping.

Complications associated with varicose veins

Complications of varicose veins include the itching that you describe and some people with varicose veins may suffer with varicose eczema. Please obtain a formal diagnosis of varicose eczema form your GP.  Varicose eczema can be managed with emollients (moisturisers), topical steroids and compression hosiery.

Treatments for varicous veins

In the vast majority of cases there is no need to surgically remove varicose veins and surgery is often performed for aesthetic rather than health reasons. The National Health Service and most health insurers will only authorise treatment the for removal of varicose veins if there is a clinical need to do so.

In answer to your question, all of the following interventional procedures have high success rates and should not create further problems for you. However, please be aware that varicose veins can return despite the treatment for them.

There are a number of options for the removal or management  of varicose veins. It's possible to get a sense of efficacy for the procedures and treatments listed below from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (nice.org). The correct procedure for removal of varicose veins depends on a number of factors, including size and position of the varicose vein.

Treatment and management options for the varicose vein that you describe might include the following:

Endothermal ablation, which uses either radiofrequency or endovenous laser treatment to heat the until the walls collapse and seal it shut

Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, whereby foam injected into the veins causes scarring, which seals the veins closed

Surgery (stripping and ligation), which involves tying off and sealing the vein then removing it.

You can find details of all the options available via the NHS on their Varicous vein treatment page.

Self care tips for varicous veins

For varicose veins that don't require treatment there are a number of things your doctor may recommend you do at home to help prevent discomfort and swelling. These include:

  • Taking regular exercise 
  • Avoiding standing for long periods of time
  • Elevating the affected leg(s) when resting
  • Using compression stockings, but only if recommendation of your GP. These aren't suitable for everyone. You'll need to visit you GP for an initial blood test to check your circulation to find out if compression stockings are an option for you. 

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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