Your Ankle Discoloration Explained

Your Ankle Discoloration Explained

Ankle discoloration is something you may have noticed recently, and you're probably wondering what's causing it. After all, pinpointing the cause of ankle discoloration is the first step in addressing it.

Our team of board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists in Tinley Park, Illinois, or Munster, Indiana, is using this month’s blog to list some possible reasons behind your ankle discoloration and explain what you can do if it’s affecting you.

Potential causes of ankle discoloration

There are many reasons why your ankles may appear discolored. Some explanations include: 

In some cases, the cause of your ankle discoloration may be obvious. For example, if you sprain your ankle, blue or purple discoloration from a bruise isn't surprising. In other cases, it might not be so obvious without proper testing.

Ankle discoloration and vascular issues

Vascular issues remain one of the most common causes of ankle discoloration. These problems can significantly affect the health of your ankles and lead to discoloration as a symptom. 

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Peripheral artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your legs and feet. Reduced blood flow can lead to skin discoloration, especially in the ankle area. 

If you experience persistent ankle discoloration, particularly in combination with pain, numbness, or coldness in your extremities, don’t brush it off. Early diagnosis of PAD and proper management can help prevent complications.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

This occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, rather than a superficial vein close to the surface of your skin. A DVT can form in any deep vein, but they often develop in the legs. This condition can cause swelling, pain, and, in some cases, ankle discoloration due to disrupted blood flow. 

If you suspect that your ankle discoloration is connected to a DVT, seek immediate medical attention. Left untreated, this condition can lead to life-threatening complications such as pulmonary embolism.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

Venous insufficiency is characterized by damaged valves in your veins. These valves normally ensure blood moves just in one direction, and when they’re damaged, it leads to poor circulation in your legs and ankles.

Over time, this condition can result in skin changes, including discoloration, venous ulcers, and swelling. Elevating your legs, wearing compression stockings, and making lifestyle modifications can help manage CVI and reduce ankle discoloration.


In rare cases, particularly related sports injuries, peripheral aneurysms in your arteries near the ankle can lead to localized discoloration, often accompanied by throbbing sensations. Aneurysms — regardless of where they’re located — require immediate medical attention to prevent rupture or other severe complications.

What to do about ankle discoloration

If you notice discolored ankles that persist or worsen, especially when accompanied by other symptoms related to your vascular system, don't hesitate to contact Vascular Specialists. Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in managing vascular-related ankle discoloration and preventing more significant health issues.

Our team has the experience and skills to help you get the treatment you need. Whether you want to explore varicose vein treatment or you need vascular surgery to address an aneurysm, know that you’re in the right place. Call 815-824-4406 or use our online form to schedule your next appointment.

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