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Treatment - Varicose eczema

For most people, treatment for varicose eczema involves a combination of:

  • self-help measures
  • emollients
  • topical corticosteroids
  • compression stockings

If these treatments do not help, your GP may refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist) or a vascular surgeon.

They'll do this:

  • if you have significant varicose veins and you want them treated
  • in case there's another cause for your symptoms
  • if they're concerned you may also have contact dermatitis

Self-help tips for varicose eczema

You can help reduce the symptoms of varicose eczema and prevent further problems if you:

  • try to avoid injuring your skin – injuries to your skin could lead to an ulcer developing
  • raise your legs when you are resting – for example, on some pillows
  • exercise – this will improve your circulation

Fluid can build up in the lower legs if you sit or stand for too long. This is why it's important to keep moving. Walking is important as it will get your muscles working. It will also help to push the blood through the veins to your heart.


Emollients are moisturising treatments. You rub them into your skin. They reduce water loss and cover it with a protective film. They're often used to help manage dry or scaly skin conditions.

Your GP can recommend one for varicose eczema. You may need to try different emollients to find one that works for you.

If you have varicose eczema, you should use an emollient at least twice a day, even if you do not have any symptoms.

It's important to keep using emollients during a flare-up of varicose eczema. This is when your skin needs it the most.

Topical corticosteroids

If emollients do not help to control your varicose eczema, your GP may prescribe a topical corticosteroid. You put this directly on your skin. It can quickly reduce inflammation.

You can get different strengths of topical corticosteroids. It depends on how bad your varicose eczema is. Your GP will tell you when to apply it and how often.

Compression stockings

Medical compression stockings help improve your vein function. They're specially designed to squeeze your legs and improve blood flow to reduce the pressure in the leg veins.

They're used to treat varicose eczema by improving the flow of blood through your leg veins. This reduces the pressure in the veins.

Complementary therapies

Some people try complementary therapies to treat varicose eczema.

But there isn't much evidence to show that they help.


If you're thinking about using a complementary therapy, talk to your GP first. This is to make sure the therapy is safe for you.

You should continue with any other treatments prescribed by your GP.

Read more about varicose eczema

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 23 March 2021
Next review due: 23 March 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.