9 Causes Of Itchy Legs & How To Treat Them.

woman with itchy leg symptoms

Itching skin can definitely be a nuisance, especially when the itching is persistent. Many people experience itching on their legs. 

Read on to learn about symptoms, causes, at-home remedies, and when to contact a healthcare professional.

Possible Causes of Itchy Legs

There are several causes for itching legs and feet.

The Most Common Causes of Itchy Legs:

Age

Unfortunately, age brings on a host of skin changes, including itching. As our bodies age, our skin becomes thinner and retains less moisture, causing dry, itchy skin.

It is recommended that you increase the amount of daily moisturizer or lotion to help maintain the skin’s hydration. If this does not work, you may want to consult a dermatologist to see if they have recommendations to ease your symptoms.

Dry skin (Xerosis)

Dry skin is the leading cause of skin itching on the legs. Several reasons can bring on dry skin, such as skin conditions, climate, and age.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Skin?

The most common symptoms of dry skin include:

  • Itching
  • Flaking or scaly skin
  • Cracks in the skin that can bleed when severely dry
  • Ashy skin on darker skin tones

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is a common cause of itching and a widespread condition that affects millions of Americans. https://www.neosporin.com/eczema/what-is-eczema

What Are the Symptoms of Eczema?

  • Extreme itching
  • Irritated, inflamed red skin
  • Dry, sensitive skin
  • Rough or scaly patches of skin
  • Dark skin discolorations
  • Areas of the skin that ooze and crust
  • Swelling

Gravitational Eczema (Stasis)

Stasis, or gravitational eczema, is most common in people who suffer from venous disorders, such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or varicose veins.  

This condition causes itching, swelling, and the appearance of red-purple patches on the lower legs as a result of poor circulation. 

Psoriasis

An immune-related condition, psoriasis causes inflamed, hardened plaques on the skin. Typically found on the scalp, knees, and elbows, people often find that they are experiencing severe itching when they are psoriasis.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Often, people with psoriasis will experience the following symptoms:

  • Inflamed areas of skin, often red and raised to the touch
  • Whitish-silver plaques or scales on areas of inflammation
  • Excessive dry skin that can crack or bleed
  • Tenderness around affected areas of skin
  • Itching and burning
  • Nails that appear thick and pitted
  • Aching, swollen joints

Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes into contact with a harmless substance or allergen that causes an immune response, such as itching and irritated or inflamed skin. 

Often, skin reactions occur for some people when they come into contact with the following:

  • Cosmetics
  • Fragrances
  • Soaps
  • Plants, such as poison ivy 
  • Metal

At times, allergic reaction may result in hives, which is a raised, red, itchy skin rash that is often triggered by an allergen.  

Also known as urticaria, nettle rash, or welts, hives occur when the body releases histamine.  When the body releases histamine, capillaries lead fluid which accumulates in the skin.

Allergic Reaction to Insect Bites or Plants

Bites from fleas, mosquitoes, spiders, and mites can cause itching, hives, and red bumps. 

Often, over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams or medicine that contains antihistamines , such as Benadryl, should help resolve your symptoms.  If they progress, however, you should consult a healthcare professional.

Nerve Related Issues or Nerve Damage

When there is damage along a nerve (due to injury or a medical condition), you may experience itching. Often, if itching is nerve-related, it will be in one spot without any visible irritation or rash.

Many illnesses can bring on nerve-related itching, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Shingles
  • Multiple Sclerosis

If you have experienced the above conditions, speak with your doctor about medication that can treat nerve pain.

Stress

Stress has also been identified as a cause of itching. While it’s not entirely understood, it’s thought that activity in the hippocampus and subcortical brain structure may be the cause.

Hives are also common when stress levels are high.

Medical conditions that may cause itching: 

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Lymphomas
  • Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
  • Sjogren Syndrome

Poor Hygiene 

Not washing regularly can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, causing irritation and itching. 

Factors such as dry hair, heat, and contact with clothing can exacerbate irritation.

How Can I Treat Itchy Legs At Home?

Some easy steps to take at home to alleviate the symptoms of itchy legs and improve skin care include:

  • Use a moisturizing lotion daily
  • Make a change to your daily bathing habits
  • Try to avoid extra hot water during your bath or shower, as hot water can be drying

Should I Contact My Doctor?

When self-care fails, and symptoms have either worsened or not improved, you may want to contact a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health conditions. In particular, if you begin to notice that the itching is interfering with your daily life, sleep, or work, make an appointment sooner than later.

Keep in mind, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms along with itching, you should contact your doctor right away:

  • Fever
  • Severe Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Changes in urinary and bowel function

What Factors Will Your Doctor Take Into Consideration When Evaluating Itchiness?

woman with itchy leg symptoms

Your doctor will try to diagnosis the cause of the itching and will take several factors into consideration:

  • Whether a rash is present
  • How long the itching has occurred
  • If you have any preexisting medical conditions
  • Whether you recently spent time outdoors experienced bug bites 
  • Whether you recently shaved your legs
  • If you have changed laundry detergents or body soap

Can Itching Be A Warning Sign of Something More Serious?

Itching that does not go away or improve over time, especially if you’ve taken self-care steps to treat at home, maybe a sign of an underlying medical condition:

  • Diabetes
  • Blood Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease: Hepatitis C, Cirrhosis, or Obstructed Bile Duct
  • HIV
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Certain Cancers: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Conclusion

If your symptoms seem to be unrelated to allergies, time outdoors, or some of more common causes listed above, contact your healthcare practitioner for an evaluation.  

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Veinly uses medical reviewed journals, medical research, and has strict editorial review guidelines by medical professionals. You can read more about  our editorial policy and how our writers produce content for Veinly.

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