Peripheral Artery Disease Skin Changes & Conditions

Do you suffer from skin discoloration, shiny skin, poor hair growth, or open wounds on your legs and feet? These may be signs of underlying peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common, yet serious, health condition.

PAD impacts blood circulation and can lead to painful and uncomfortable symptoms, including a number of skin conditions and changes. Most commonly, PAD symptoms occur on the lower extremities. 

If you are concerned about skin issues due to PAD, we recommend consulting a vascular specialist. Fortunately, non-surgical treatment is available to help alleviate symptoms and reduce additional health risks. 

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How Does PAD Affect Skin?

PAD can affect your skin in different ways. Some individuals may notice leg discoloration; others, shiny skin or poor leg hair growth. In severe cases, arterial ulcers (open, non-healing wounds) may develop that can leave you prone to serious infection.

Skin issues are fairly common in PAD patients. A 2019 study reported their prevalence at 35.7%. The most commonly reported symptom of PAD is claudication, muscle pain or weakness that begins with physical activity, such as walking, and stops within minutes after resting.

It is important to seek medical evaluation for peripheral artery disease skin changes and other leg symptoms because the development of PAD-related skin conditions may be a sign of progressing disease. While PAD cannot be cured, treatment is available that can bring relief to painful and uncomfortable symptoms.

Possible Skin Conditions Caused by PAD

As mentioned above, there are a range of potential PAD skin changes that you may experience. Some of these include:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Poor leg hair growth
  • Shiny legs
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • Erythema (a rash caused by damaged blood capillaries)
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Skin infection
  • Tissue death

If you experience any of the above issues, contact your vascular specialist as soon as possible. They can evaluate whether your skin changes are due to PAD or another health condition. If your doctor determines that PAD is the underlying cause, they will likely recommend treatment.

Why Does PAD Cause Changes to the Skin?

We know that PAD causes changes to your skin, but why does this happen? PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a narrowing or blockage of arteries due to plaque build up. This type of plaque consists of fats, cholesterol, cellular waste products, and fibrin. 

When PAD limits blood flow to the lower extremities, it makes even the simplest activities like walking and exercising difficult. PAD increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, arterial ulcers, and even limb amputation, but diagnosis and treatment by a vascular specialist can reduce your risk and alleviate symptoms.

What to Do About PAD-Related Skin Changes

Peripheral artery disease skin conditions should always be evaluated by a qualified vascular specialist. PAD is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms get worse over time.

If you are diagnosed with PAD, the experienced specialists at USA Vascular Centers will develop a treatment plan that can help decrease your pain and restore blood flow to the affected areas. Benefits include:

  • Alleviating symptoms
  • Reducing additional health risks
  • Improving your quality of life

Your specialized plan may include one or more of the treatments below:

  • Lifestyle modifications: To improve your symptoms, you may need to make some lifestyle changes. We generally recommend that individuals with PAD maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), exercise regularly, eat a well-rounded diet, quit smoking, and manage other underlying health conditions. If you need help achieving these goals, talk to your doctor about how to find support.
  • Medications: Your vascular specialist may prescribe medications to improve blood flow throughout your body. Be sure to take medications exactly as instructed.
  • Medical procedures: In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure is required to open up the arteries and reestablish blood flow. We may recommend angioplasty, stent placement, or atherectomy to treat your PAD.

At USA Vascular Centers, we specialize in performing non-surgical, outpatient PAD treatment. Our treatments do not require general anesthesia, a hospital stay, or a lengthy recovery. 

If a treatment procedure is recommended for you, you will only need to be with us for about two hours, from start to finish. Afterwards, you can recover from the comfort of your own home.

Schedule a Consultation at USA Vascular Centers

USA Vascular Centers is a nationwide network of outpatient medical centers specializing in minimally invasive treatment of peripheral artery disease. We offer over 40 locations, along with telemedicine options.

To get started on your journey towards better vascular health, request a consultation online today. We look forward to meeting you.

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Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.

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