Pitting Edema Scale

Pitting Edema Scale: Signs and Causes

June 25, 2019

Swollen skin isn’t rare. It can be caused by several conditions like allergies, bruises, and bug bites. Sometimes though it’s a more condition like “pitting edema.” This is caused by fluid and the “pit” stays even after you’ve pressed the skin. It’s a problem because skin usually bounces back automatically. The condition can have different effects so sometimes a pitting edema scale is used to check it out. It’s important to note this isn’t just your skin getting a little swollen. When it doesn’t bounce back there’s something wrong. The big question is what that something is so your doctor can provide treatment.

Doctors sometimes use a pitting edema scale to figure out how serious the problem is. This includes how much of a pit is made when someone presses on the skin, and how long it takes the skin to rebound. This can help doctors to figure out what’s wrong and provide the treatment needed. The treatments can range from stockings to surgery. The big benefit of a scale is it provides a scientific way to find out how serious the problem is. If the skin doesn’t stay pushed in a long time or bounces back fast then it’s a sign the condition isn’t major.


What Are the Signs of Pitting Edema?

First, let’s talk about edema. This condition is caused when fluid builds up in the tissues and causes swelling that you can see. Swollen skin is something we deal with quite often and isn’t a condition that only happens once in a blue moon.

So, what’s pitting edema all about? When you press down on your skin it usually bounces back quickly. The “pitting” part happens when there’s a dip in the skin that stays for a while when pushing down the area.

Sometimes you don’t even have to press down on the skin. For example, if you’re wearing a tight stocking or shoe you can see the effect after you remove the clothing/footwear.

What should you look for? This condition is usually in the lower body including the feet, ankles, and legs. Watch out for skin that feels sore, tight, or heavy. Here are some other signs:

  • Ache/pain in the swollen area
  • Coughing
  • Puffy/stiff skin
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Skin feels warm/hot
  • Numbness
  • Tingling/burning around the swelling

If you have one of these symptoms it doesn’t mean you have pitting edema. However, if you have multiple ones then there’s a greater chance that’s the condition you’re suffering from.

One thing you should certainly watch out for is shortness of breath, chest pain, or swelling in one limb. If you have any of those conditions then you should get immediate medical attention.

Another factor is whether or not you have pitting or non-pitting edema. When you press down on the swollen area and see a small pit then this is the pitting type.

Non-pitting edema means the skin bounces back after you remove the pressure. This condition is less serious but is still one you should get checked out to learn what’s wrong.


Pitting Edema Scale and Treatment

Some doctors use a scale to rate the different levels of pitting edema. The scale is based on how deep the pit is and how long it remains after you put pressure on the area. Here’s the scale used to rate how serious the condition is:

Grade 1: The pit is between 0mm to 2mm and rebounds quickly. It’s the least serious kind of pitting edema.

Grade 2: Pressure leaves pit that’s 3mm to 4mm and rebounds in less than 15 seconds.

Grade 3: The pressure leaves a pit that’s 5mm to 6mm deep and takes 30 or fewer seconds to bounce back.

Grade 4: The pressure leaves a pit that’s 8+ mm deep and rebounds in 30 or fewer seconds.

Let’s talk about the different treatments that are available. The one your doctor picks is based on the main cause of the condition. A range of different methods can be used. They include:

  • Compression stockings to increase circulation
  • Boosting levels of blood protein
  • Using “water pills” to get rid of extra fluid
  • Having vascular surgery
  • Elevating a swollen limb above the heart’s level

It all starts with finding out exactly what’s causing the swollen pits in the skin. Once a doctor does that, they start dealing with the condition more effectively.

Make sure to be on the safe side. If you observe some symptoms that could be related to pitting edema make sure to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Ignoring the symptoms could make them worse. It’s best to know exactly if something is wrong and if so—what.


Pitting Edema: Causes, Prevention, and Outlook

1. Causes

So, what are the main causes of this condition? When it happens due to diseases related to the liver, kidneys, and heart it’s usually caused by salt retention.

When this happens, it can cause various problems related to organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart. So, it’s important to reduce your salt intake.

Another possible cause is “varicose veins,” which is a blood clot that happens in a swollen vein. This condition only takes place in the legs.

Yet another thing to watch out for is the buildup of fluid in the leg’s tissues. This could result from various factors including:

  • Medication side-effects
  • Heart failure
  • Cellulitis (infection)
  • Salt retention

2. Prevention

The good news is after the cause of the pitting edema is learned and treated the condition usually doesn’t return.

There’s a catch. A person who’s at high risk of getting edema should take some lifestyle changes to reduce the chance the condition will return. Nothing is 100% but taking some basic steps can help prevent the skin dips from returning.

Lifestyle changes can differ. They include moving around, avoiding standing/sitting for a long time, and doing light exercises to lower swelling.

3. Outlook

It’s important to keep in mind that in many cases having pitting edema isn’t serious. The problem could be related to health conditions that are causing the symptom.

You shouldn’t have any long-term problems if you suffer from edema. In fact, most people who get help from their doctor get long-lasting relief from their symptoms.

The first step to take is to contact your doctor if you think you might have this condition. He/She can then use various methods to determine the root cause of the problem. One of the most reliable tools available today is pitting edema scale.