Poor circulation due to heart failure, thickened arteries, weak veins, or a whole host other issues, causes more problems than most people realize. Not only does it cause annoying symptoms, like cold hands and feet, but infections clear up more slowly, muscles cramp even when they are not in use, and the skin discolors. Physiologically speaking, poor circulation leads to a decrease in oxygenation levels in the body and decreases its ability to remove toxins and waste products from the system. This means that helpful cells, like those that control infections, cannot get into tissues and perform their duties. Other cells that normally clean up after healthy functioning cannot perform their intended duties either. The ill effects are system wide and can be seen by the naked eye when they alter the health, look, and feel of the skin.
Diabetics have notoriously poor circulation and it can cause problems all over their bodies. Eyelid problems, boils, and nail infections are not uncommon. Bacterial infections set in and the poor circulation in these areas does not allow the immune system to effectively treat and manage the infection. Fungal infections appear on diabetes patients often too. With high sugar levels and a body that does not circulate plasma and blood well, infections that would normally be easily managed can take over. Digital sclerosis is a hardening of the skin. It forms because of a combination of medical conditions that occur with type I diabetes, like high cholesterol and blood pressure, and their poor circulation. Oral medications can have a difficult time reaching each of these sites
Stasis dermatitis, or congestion eczema, is a condition localized in the lower legs due to poor circulation. Without appropriate venous return because of heart complications, the blood pools in lower extremities and causes veins and capillaries to leak fluids and proteins into tissues. The mechanisms of fluid and protein equilibrium are disrupted and proteins leaking in one direction will cause more protein to move into the tissues, pulling more water, then more proteins, etc. The cycle can cause serious complications and be potentially life threatening.
The unnatural quantities of fluids stretch the skin and cause bloating in the tissues. The skin appears discolored and varies from brown to red. The poor circulation and pooling means the tissues are not oxygenated well and their waste products are not being efficiently removed. Ulcers and skin sores develop quickly and cracks and lesions appear on the toes, feet, and legs. Bacterial infections can set in when the open wounds are exposed to every day bacteria in quantities that overcome the immune system in stagnant fluids.
Pressure ulcers or bedsores form over bony areas when pressure or friction decrease circulation in specific areas. They are often seen in patients who have been in bed for too long without being turned or rotated in their beds. Those who use wheelchairs can easily get ulcers if the chair does not have proper cushioning around bony areas. While it is not as common, ulcers can form on the feet of people who never take off their ill-fitting shoes. Tissues are compressed and muscle cells fall apart and release their potentially damaging contents. The ulcers are graded at different stages depending on their size and depth in the tissues they infect. Deeper ulcers can cause problems beyond the continual destruction in the site of the ulcer. The open wound can become easily infected making it grow faster and deeper.
Poor circulation can be treated a few different ways. There are ways to treat poor circulation without medication. Using gravity to pull the blood form the legs by simply pulling the feet up can assist the body greatly. Compression socks assist the veins in bringing the blood back up the legs and to the heart. Manual massage can help blood flow too. Being active by performing yoga and stretching can strengthen the heart and muscles, which bolsters circulation. There are numerous prescription medications that can be obtained from a physician to aid in blood pressure that increase circulation. Skin problems from poor circulation should be taken seriously, they are side effect of long term health care issues.