Narrative Review of the Pathogenesis of Stasis Dermatitis: An Inflammatory Skin Manifestation of Venous Hypertension

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Dermatology and therapy








Inflammation; Pathogenesis; Stasis dermatitis; Venous dermatitis; Venous hypertension


INTRODUCTION: Stasis dermatitis (SD), also known as venous dermatitis, is a form of inflammatory dermatitis of the lower extremities that typically occurs in older individuals and represents a cutaneous manifestation of venous hypertension. Venous hypertension (also known as sustained ambulatory venous pressure) is most often due to retrograde blood flow, which occurs due to calf muscle pump failure. This failure is most commonly secondary to incompetent venous valves, valve destruction, or obstruction of the venous system. Many of the common symptoms associated with SD are caused by inflammatory processes. METHODS: This review summarizes the pathogenesis and key role of inflammation in SD by reviewing inflammatory biomarkers associated with SD. The literature was selected though a high-level PubMed search focusing on keywords relating to inflammation associated with SD. RESULTS: Venous reflux at the lower extremities causes venous hypertension, which leads to chronic venous insufficiency. High venous pressure due to venous hypertension promotes the local accumulation and extravasation of inflammatory cells across the vascular endothelium. Leukocyte trapping in the microcirculation and perivascular space is associated with trophic skin changes. Cell adhesion molecules are linked with the perpetuated influx of activated leukocytes into inflammatory sites. Here, inflammatory cells may influence the remodeling of the extracellular matrix by inducing the secretion of proteinases such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The increased expression of MMPs is associated with the formation of venous leg ulcers and lesions. Phosphodiesterase 4 activity has also been shown to be elevated in individuals with inflammatory dermatoses compared to healthy individuals. DISCUSSION: Because inflammation is a key driver of the signs and symptoms of SD, several of the highlighted biomarkers of inflammation represent potential opportunities to target and interrupt molecular pathways of cutaneous inflammation and, therefore, remediate the signs and symptoms of SD. CONCLUSION: Understanding the pathogenesis of SD may help clinicians identify drivers of inflammation to use as potential targets for the development of new treatment options.