Itchy Skin on Lower Legs: Causes and Remedies

image001 Any skin condition that causes itching can be unsettling and uncomfortable. When the lower legs itch, it may point to a variety of skin issues such as: infection, allergies, hives and rashes. Or causes can be attributed to skin conditions, pregnancy, environmental factors, or allergic reactions. Once you find the cause you can try several remedies to help alleviate the discomfort.

Causes of Itchy Lower Legs

1. Poor Hygiene

Dirty skin that is contaminated with dirt or sweat mixes with the normal bacteria on the skin. This natural process can cause itchy skin. Then you cover up the process with clothing that rubs on the irritated nerves and makes itching worse. To prevent this issue, shower regularly and keep the skin clean and dry. Since heat can make the condition worse, take lukewarm showers or baths and use a very mild soap to keep the skins natural oils intact.

2. Dry Skin and Chicken Skin

A medical condition called, keratosis pilaris, can cause the hair follicles on the arms and legs to become thicker. These look similar to goose bumps and are brown or red in color. This condition is commonly known as “chicken skin” and causes rough dry skin and inflammation of the hair follicles. Keratosis pilaris can be taken care of with exfoliation, but they may return. This skin condition does get better over time as you get older.

Skin that is dry can be an inherited condition and can cause the legs to itch. Dry skin can be made worse by using too much soap or taking too many showers.

Try these tips in order to prevent dry skin:

  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. You need to be passing 200 ml of light yellow urine when you wake up in the morning if you are hydrated well.
  • Stay away from direct sunlight and stay out of the wind
  • Try using an anti-itch cream which are very safe and can also be used in pregnancy under a doctor’s supervision
  • After showering, apply a moisturizer

3. Folliculitis

Hair follicles can become infected resulting in folliculitis. The bacteria that causes this is most often, staphylococcus aureas or more commonly known as a, staph infection. Folliculitis presents as painful bumps that are red and itch. They may have centers that are filled with fluid and often show up on the buttocks or thighs. People who are athletic can get this infection from wearing clothing that is too tight during workouts. It can also be passed from person to person who share clothing items. Keeping skin clean and dry may help heal the infection and itchy lower legs, but the bumps may remain for quite some time.

Folliculitis can be treated by:

  • For persistent rash, you can use soaps that are anti-bacterial or mupirocin ointment
  • For severe infection that covers large skin surfaces, a doctor may have to prescribe oral antibiotics

4. Cholinergic Urticaria

Some people may experience hives on the arms, trunk and thighs after showering in hot water or after vigorous exercise. This is known as, cholinergic urticaria and causes severe itching that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. It is believed that people who experience this condition may possibly be allergic to sweat.

These tips may help with preventing cholinergic urticaria:

  • Try taking cooler showers
  • You can take an antihistamine 30 minutes before exercise or showering to prevent a reaction
  • Avoid vigorous exercise when it is very hot outside
  • When the hives start to appear, take a rest break from exercise
  • Try not to scratch the hives as this will make the itch worse

5. Stasis Eczema

Stasis eczema is also known as, gravitational eczema. Varicose veins in the lower legs cause slowing of blood circulation in the lower legs. This causes a purple, rough and reddened appearance of the skin. Stasis can also cause swelling. Other causes are blood vessel conditions and deep venous thrombosis. Doctors can prescribe corticosteroids and treat the condition that leads to stasis eczema.

6.Restless Leg Syndrome

When you have a strong urge to move your legs all the time, you may have a condition known as Restless Leg Syndrome. Other symptoms include legs that tingle or itch while you are at rest. The cause of restless leg syndrome is still a mystery. It is usually treated with changes in the lifestyle such as; reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, things that can trigger itching and anti-itch medications.

7. Unfit Running

If you were not very active for some time and then started running, you may notice severe itchy lower legs. This feeling of “itching” is actually irritated nerves near the arteries in the muscles. With proper training, this type of itching should improve with time.

8. Insect Bites

Home infestations of fleas or other biting insects can cause itching and red bumps on the legs if you sustain bites. They tend to live in the carpets and on pets. You may notice other family members experiencing the same symptoms. If so, you will need to treat your carpets, pets and thoroughly clean living areas to reduce this cause of itching.

9. Other Causes (Serious Diseases)

Unexplainable itching may be caused by things like; skin conditions disease processes and medication side-effects. The disease processes that include itching as a symptom include; kidney disease, liver disease, leukemia, lymphoma, blood conditions, thyroid conditions, cancers and diabetes. If you have no explainable cause for itching, you should see your doctor for a check-up. In the meantime, you can use a good quality moisturizer and an antihistamine to reduce itching symptoms.

More Remedies for Itchy Legs

There are many helpful home remedies for the relief of itching. It helps to find the cause of the itching in order to determine the best treatment, but the tips below can help bring some relief:

  • Avoid hot water when showering or bathing. Use lukewarm water to help protect the skins natural moisture barrier.
  • Try to use soap and skin cleanser that has a proper pH balance. Low pH can dry the skin. Make sure you rinse the skin well and get all the soap off.
  • Avoid scratching the itchy areas. This only makes itching work and can make the skin areas rough and thickened. Itching may darken or turn the skin red where there is itching. If you scratch itchy areas often or roughly you can cause scarring. This also increases the risk of over pigmentation or may cause infection.

When to See a Doctor

The following are important reasons to check with a physician or dermatologist:

  • Itching that lasts longer than two weeks and doesn’t get better with home treatment
  • Severe itching that makes you uncomfortable and keeps you from normal daily activities or interferes with sleep
  • Itching all over the body
  • Itching that you cannot find a cause for
  • itchy lower legs with other symptoms that include; fatigue, abnormal bowel function, loss of weight, changes in urination and skin discoloration