April 21, 2023

Hemosiderin Staining: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options


Hemosiderin is a complex of iron and protein that is found in the body. It is formed when red blood cells break down and release their iron. Hemosiderin staining is a condition where the skin or tissues become discolored due to the accumulation of hemosiderin. Here, we'll discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hemosiderin staining.


Hemosiderin staining occurs when there is an excessive breakdown of red blood cells, leading to an accumulation of iron in the skin or tissues. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency: A condition where the valves in the veins of the legs are damaged, leading to poor blood flow and an accumulation of blood in the legs
  • Varicose veins: Swollen, twisted veins that can be a result of chronic venous insufficiency
  • Bruising: A common cause of hemosiderin staining, especially in older adults with fragile skin
  • Skin trauma: Any injury to the skin can lead to hemosiderin staining


The most common symptom of hemosiderin staining is a dark, rusty-brown discoloration of the skin. This discoloration occurs because of the accumulation of hemosiderin in the tissues. Other symptoms can include swelling, pain, and skin ulcers.

Treatment Options

The treatment for hemosiderin staining will depend on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Compression therapy: This involves wearing compression stockings to improve blood flow and reduce swelling
  • Skin care: Keeping the affected area clean and moisturized can help prevent skin ulcers
  • Topical creams: Some creams can help reduce the appearance of hemosiderin staining
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged tissues or repair damaged veins.


Can hemosiderin staining be prevented?

Hemosiderin staining can be prevented by taking steps to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of skin trauma. This can include wearing compression stockings, avoiding sitting or standing for long periods of time, and protecting the skin from injury.

Is hemosiderin staining a serious condition?

Hemosiderin staining is not a serious condition, but it can be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as chronic venous insufficiency. It's important to see a healthcare provider if you notice any discoloration of the skin or other symptoms.

Can hemosiderin staining be treated with laser therapy?

Laser therapy has been used to treat hemosiderin staining, but it is not a common treatment option. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for your specific case.

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