Skin Care Tips for People With PAD, From a Dermatologist

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects your blood flow. But its signs and symptoms can appear on your skin.

Many people with PAD notice changes to the skin on their feet and legs, such as:

  • Cool to the touch
  • Redness or color changes
  • Changes in texture (the skin may be brittle or shiny in places)
  • Thinning of leg hair
  • Sores on the toes and feet that take a long time to heal

“The skin is the largest organ in the body, and although it can be thought of as ‘external’, the skin can often reflect the health and well-being of internal organs,” says dermatologist Jeremy A. Brauer, MD. , founder and director of Spectrum Skin. and Laser in Purchase, NY.

“Although patients are initially unaware of an underlying disease, what they notice with their skin, hair and nails may be the first sign of disease,” says Brauer.

It’s time to see a doctor

Any change in your skin or other symptoms could be a sign of PAD or of another condition worsening. Keep track of symptoms and tell your dermatologist or doctor if you notice the following or other changes:

  • Redness, pale spots, or other color changes on your feet and legs
  • Cuts, blisters, cracks, or scratches that do not heal
  • Burning or aching pain in the feet
  • Very cool skin to the touch when you’re not cold

Why this happens

PAD can affect your skin because it involves circulation problems. Skin changes can occur when your arteries narrow or become blocked, making it difficult for blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to flow freely to your legs and feet.

If there is complete loss of blood flow to the legs or feet, the symptoms of PAD can become severe and lead to gangrene – the death of body tissue – and, in some cases, require amputation.

Besides the changes in your skin, you may also experience pain in your feet or legs when you walk or move. But the pain goes away when you’re at rest and your lower body needs less blood flow.

While some of these skin symptoms themselves may not sound too worrisome, they can be signs that PAD is getting worse. If you are not treated, you are at a higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious problems caused by blockages in your blood vessels.

Manage skin symptoms

If you have PAD and notice changes to your skin, make an appointment with your dermatologist. They can suggest ways to treat skin issues to make you feel better and help you determine if something more is going on.

“Whenever someone is worried about their skin, they should make it a point to see their dermatologist,” says Brauer. “This is especially if you notice sores on the feet (or anywhere on the body) that don’t heal or get worse. On this or subsequent visit, lab work may be ordered or referrals to specialists may be made to diagnose any underlying condition. “

Since the skin – especially on the feet and legs – can be affected by PAD, it’s important to check your lower body regularly and note any changes, and give your skin a little extra. Warning.

“Go for shorter, lukewarm showers, and hydrate well afterward to keep skin hydrated and barrier integrity intact,” says Brauer.

Manage systemic disease

Although PAD is a circulatory condition, it can affect the whole body, including the skin. The things you do to take care of your whole body will help you with PAD.

“Skin health is part of overall health and well-being,” says Brauer. “Good eating and sleeping habits, a healthy and balanced diet are all the keys to maintaining a healthy body and healthy skin. ”

You should also stop smoking and eat a balanced diet that is high in fiber and low in cholesterol, fat and sodium. Ask your doctor how to start an exercise program and check for any other health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, as these can also make PA worse.

And if your doctor prescribes medication for you, be sure to take it as prescribed.

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