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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Other Names for this Disease
  • Acute lipodermatosclerosis
  • Hypodermitis sclerodermaformis
  • Sclerosing panniculitis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

Please send me any information you have regarding lipodermatosclerosis. The physicians in my area do not know how to treat my condition. The pain is getting unbearable at times and I am looking for any kind of treatments that may help my condition.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is lipodermatosclerosis?

Lipodermatosclerosis is a form of panniculitis that affects the legs.[1] It is characterized by inflammation of the layer of fat under the skin.[2] Signs and symptoms include pain, hardening of skin, change in skin color (redness), swelling, and a tapering of the legs above the ankles.[3][1][4] The condition often occurs in people who have venous insufficiency.[4]
Last updated: 4/24/2013

Are there other names for lipodermatosclerosis?

Yes. Other names for lipodermatosclerosis include sclerosing panniculitis and hypodermatitis sclerodermaformis. [1]
Last updated: 7/11/2013

What are the signs and symptoms of lipodermatosclerosis?

Signs and symptoms of lipodermatosclerosis, include pain,[1] hardening of skin, change in skin color, swelling, and a tapering of the legs above the ankles.[3][1][4] The lower inner lef or one or both legs may be involved. Lipodermatosclerosis may present as an acute or as a chronic (longstanding) condition.[4]

Acute lipodermatosclerosis generally occurs without any preceding illness or local injury. It presents as episodes of painful inflammation in the inner leg above the ankle, resembling cellulitis. The affected area is red, tender and warm, and may be scaly. Some thickening of the skin can be felt but this is not sharply demarcated as in chronic lipodermatosclerosis. Patients with acute lipodermatosclerosis are mainly middle-aged.[4] 

Chronic lipodermatosclerosis may follow an acute episode or develop gradually. Common findings in chronic lipodermatosclerosis include pain, hardening of the skin, localized thickening, moderate redness, increased pigmentation, small white scarred areas (atrophie blanche), increased fluid in the leg (edema), varicose veins, and leg ulcers. Chronic lipodermatosclerosis also predisposes to venous or stasis eczema.[4]

Last updated: 7/21/2011

What causes lipodermatosclerosis?

The exact cause of lipodermatosclerosis is unknown.[5][1] Vein disease, such as venous incompetence (leaky valves) and venous hypertension (raised pressure in the leg veins), and obesity may play a role.[1][4]
Last updated: 6/10/2011

How might lipodermatosclerosis be treated?

Many people with lipodermatosclerosis have venous insufficiency. Treatment of venous insufficiency may include leg elevation, elastic compression stockings, and bed rest. In addition, treatment may include:[4] 
  • Vein surgery, endovenous laser ablation or sclerotherapy
  • Weight reduction
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Fibrinolytic agents such as stanozolol
  • Pentoxyfylline to increase blood flow
  • Clobetasol propionate (ultrapotent topical steroid) or intralesional triamcinolone injections to reduce inflammation
  • Capsaicin to reduce pain
Last updated: 7/21/2011

How can I learn about research involving lipodermatosclerosis?

The National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. You can search for clinical trials enrolling participants with lipodermatosclerosis by clicking on the link above and using "lipodermatosclerosis" as your search term. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at 800-411-1222 to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.

Resources on many charitable or special-fare flights to research and treatment sites and low-cost hospitality accommodations for outpatients and family members, as well as ambulance services, are listed on the Web site of the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Last updated: 7/21/2011

  • Bruce AJ. et al. Lipodermatosclerosis: Review of cases evaluated at Mayo Clinic. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002;
  • Ginsburg PM, Ehrenpreis ED. NORD Guide to Rare Disorders. Philadelphia PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2003;
  • Phelps RG, Shoji T. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine. 2001; Accessed 2/13/2008.
  • Duffill M. Lipodermatosclerosis. DermNet. June 2011; Accessed 7/21/2011.
  • Fischer DR, Matthews JB. Diseases of the mesentery and omentum. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ. eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 7th ed . Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier Inc.; 2002;
  • Habif TP. Stasis dermatitis and venous ulceration: Postphlebitic syndromes. Habif: Clinical Dermatology, 4th ed. New York, NY: Mosby, Inc; 2004;
  • Camilleri MJ, Danil Su WP. Panniculitis. In: Freedberg IM, Eisen AZ, Wolff K, Austen KF, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, eds. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2003;