This article is for informational purposes only and does not form a diagnosis. We urge you to seek medical attention if you believe you have any problems with your veins, blood clots or other health problems. You need to know when to seek treatment for superficial clots near the surface of the skin.
We already know that blood clots can be found in the deeper veins which have been known to be very dangerous. This is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), and requires urgent medical attention. What about those clots near the surface of the skin? What is their story? Should I be worried? They are small so does it mean they aren’t a major cause of concern?
These clots just under the skin are known as a superficial thrombophlebitis (STP). This condition usually starts with inflammation and is then followed by coagulation. It is commonly found in the leg area, although STPs in the arms are not unheard of.
You may suspect that you’re suffering from STP when you have one or more of the following signs:
- A red line on your skin covering a vein
- Swelling and pain
- Fever in worst case scenario
So does it immediately mean that you have STP when you experience these symptoms? That’s not certain yet. It would be best to present yourself to a medical practitioner for examination to confirm a diagnosis.
How is STP Diagnosed?
This can be done either through blood tests to check for your coagulation rate and presence of infection, or through a doppler ultrasound which visualises your vein.
Risk Factors Related to STP
There are a myriad of reasons why a person develops STP. Some of them include:
- Presence of varicose veins
- Long-term IV catheter
- Multiple intravenous injections
- Limited physical activity
- An existing blood disorder
That being said, you should always be on the lookout if you do get blood clots just under your skin. That way, management and treatment can be done during the early stages.
When to Seek Immediate Treatment
Ideally, you should seek professional help once you suspect STP or you have questions about your overall vein health. But the situations below should warrant an immediate consultation.
- Your leg/ arm becomes pale/ blue
- Your leg/ arm feels hot/ cold
- The affected area feels tender, painful, and looks swollen
In extreme cases you may become lightheaded, have difficulty breathing, experience chest pain, or cough up blood, you need to be taken to the emergency room right away. There have been cases where a pulmonary embolism may be caused by a dislodged blood clot, and it is life-threatening.
Treatment and Management
As always, we advise you to seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of STP, intervention can vary.
- Localised and mild tenderness may be treated with analgesics
- Exercise and physical activity is highly encouraged
- Alleviate pain and swelling with hot, wet compresses
- Phlebectomy, or removal of a vein, may be indicated in worst case scenarios
In a nutshell, a blood clot, no matter its location, should be taken with utmost urgency. Our vein specialists at VeinCare can advise you of your options for non urgent vein problems. If you suspect you may have a blood clot, you need to seek medical attention immediately.