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The Skin Around My Ankles Is Darkening — Is It Related to My Veins?

The Skin Around My Ankles Is Darkening — Is It Related to My Veins?

As you get older, you begin to become accustomed to changes in your skin as discolorations, wrinkles, scars, and more, build up. Recently, however, you’ve noticed a curious discoloration around your ankles, and your skin is darkening in these areas.

Ankle discoloration is a common sign of a vascular issue that involves the veins in the legs, and it’s a symptom that warrants further investigation.

At Louisiana Heart and Vascular, our team, which is under the direction of triple board-certified cardiologist Dr. Farhad Aduli, is well-versed in venous problems that develop in the legs. There are several telltale signs of these issues, and ankle discoloration certainly qualifies. Let’s take a look.

A closer look at ankle discoloration

Your ankles can become discolored for any number of reasons, such as bruising or a rash, but the ankle discoloration we’re exploring is different. This type of ankle discoloration causes a brownish, darkening in the skin around your ankles.

Also called hemosiderin staining, the discoloration is due to blood leaking out of the small blood vessels in your ankles. When the blood leaks out, your hemoglobins release their stores of iron, which is then taken up in your tissues as hemosiderin. As a result of this extra iron in your tissues, your skin becomes stained, which can be yellow, brown, black, or red in color.

The reason why this most often occurs in your ankles is because this where pressure in your blood vessels is fairly high.

Potential causes of ankle discoloration

Far and away, the leading cause of the type of ankle discoloration we’re discussing is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which affects 6-7 million people in the United States. 

With CVI, the valves in the veins in your legs are weakened, which allows blood to pool backward. When this blood pools backward and the pressure builds, it can leak out of small blood vessels and lead to ankle discoloration.

Outside of ankle discoloration, CVI can make you more prone to developing varicose veins in your legs, as well as painful venous ulcers.

If your ankle discoloration is accompanied by leg swelling, the problem may be more serious and signal heart problems, such as congestive heart failure.

Solutions for ankle discoloration

As you can see, it’s important that we perform a vein evaluation so we can get to the bottom of your ankle discoloration and take steps to prevent the issue from worsening.

As for the staining around your ankles, the good news is that the symptom is mostly cosmetic, and we can help lighten the area through topical creams and/or laser treatments.

If you want us to investigate the discoloring in your ankles, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today. We’re located in Covington and Franklinton, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville, Hammond, and Slidell.

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