It all started with little red dots on her ankle. Allison Ferguson had no idea what these little rash-like marks were, nor that her research for answers would begin nearly two years of visits to a variety of physicians and specialists before landing in the office of Dr. Joseph Magnant, founder of Vein Specialists in Southwest Florida. An experienced Vascular Surgeon with a practice focused on vein disease, Dr. Magnant was able to diagnosis the condition as stasis dermatitis and successfully treat her, finally providing the relief she so desperately sought.
For about a month she suffered from constant itching. She finally stopped by her employee health clinic and was given a topical steroid cream. But it didn’t help. “It looked kind of like a heat rash, it was really bothering me and it was not going away,” remembers Ferguson.
Her next visit was to a dermatologist. “The doctor thought they were bug bites, like scabies,” she recalls in disbelief. A biopsy was taken, and the medicine prescribed did not improve the condition.
There were more creams and more biopsies but still no relief and no answers. She remembers, “It felt like poison ivy and we were now getting into the hot months of summer. I was miserable.” She went to a rheumatologist, then an allergist, and back to a dermatologist before finally seeking help outside of Southwest Florida.
She made an appointment with a physician and professor at the University of Miami Center for Dermatology who performed yet another biopsy and then conducted his own lab work. “He said I had dermatitis that was caused by a vein issue known as stasis dermatitis” says Ferguson. “I remember at some point previously, another doctor had mentioned it could possibly be a vein issue, but that was kind of in passing and it was never pursued.”
Armed with new information and hope, Ferguson called Dr. Magnant. “Allison had venous insufficiency; however, her symptoms were atypical; a rash and itching without noticeable varicose veins,” says Dr. Magnant.
Venous disease affects about 20% of the U.S. population, about 40-50 million adults. Venous insufficiency occurs when valves in the leg veins fail to close, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart. This causes blood to pool in the legs, resulting in varicose veins, swelling, inflammation, and a host of other presentations, including skin conditions like stasis dermatitis.
Dr. Magnant explains, “Her diagnosis of stasis dermatitis, even though it is one of the less common presentations of venous disease, is more often than not, treated as just a skin condition by many specialists without investigating the underlying cause.” He continues, “Stasis dermatitis is not that hard to diagnose but physicians, in general, don’t receive much education about it or venous disease during their residency training. Venous disease intersects with dermatology in this population of patients, who have what I like to refer to as “DermatoVenous” disease.”
Dr. Magnant treated the veins in both of Ferguson’s legs with a procedure known as endovenous ablation in which a radiofrequency catheter (ClosureFAST™) was used to seal leaking veins by heating them closed. She describes it as, “quick and painless.”
“I’m pretty young, although venous disease can happen at any age,” says Ferguson. “It took so long to diagnose because I did not have any commonly recognized outward signs like varicose veins. Today I’m in the clear thanks to Dr. Magnant.”