If you notice your legs are more itchy than normal, you probably don’t need to worry. Itchy legs are usually caused by dry skin, but the feeling can also signal a more serious condition.
It’s important to avoid scratching your itchy legs, as this can cause further damage to the skin and make the area feel more sensitive. Read on to learn more about what causes itchy legs and how to relieve it.
The causes of itchy legs can be divided into four categories:
- neurogenic: This type of itching is driven by problems with the nervous system, the body’s way of communicating.
- psychogenic: This itching is caused by a psychological disorder.
- Neuropathy: Itching caused by nerve damage in the body.
- Sensual: Itching sensation of the skin itself. For example, the skin may become itchy and irritated from insect bites.
Causes of itchy legs below fall into one of these four categories.
Dry skin belongs to the itchy category and is the most common cause of itchy legs. Dry skin occurs when the skin lacks moisture and becomes dehydrated.
Certain allergens can cause very itchy legs. The most common allergen people are exposed to is nickel, but other irritants found in hygiene products, nail polish and latex are also common. When an allergic reaction occurs, the skin feels intensely itchy, and a rash develops.
In today’s world, it is difficult to avoid contact with nickel, as this substance can be found in many products used every day. Nickel-containing products include eyeglass frames, zippers, belt buckles, jewelry and cell phones.
Diabetes is not generally thought to be associated with a skin disease, however, the disease does have several skin manifestations. Some diabetes-related skin problems can cause itching, such as:
- diabetic fat necrosis (NLD)
- Granuloma annulare (GA)
People with diabetes are also more prone to dry skin due to high blood sugar levels, and working overtime can damage nerves in the legs. This in turn can cause itchy legs.
Symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes
Various other types of diseases can also cause itchy legs. Some include:
- skin cancer
- Blood disorders or disorders that affect the blood, such as Hodgkin lymphoma or cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- kidney disease
- liver disease, such as hepatitis C or cirrhosis
- Hyperthyroidism, a disorder that occurs when the thyroid produces too much of certain key hormones that the body needs
- hand, foot and mouth disease, a viral infection that causes severe itching in the legs
- multiple sclerosis
itchy legs as a warning sign
Sometimes a very itchy leg can alert you to an underlying medical condition. If your chronic and intense itching in your legs is not relieved by removing the allergen, changing your moisturizer, or keeping your skin hydrated, you should see a healthcare professional.
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Skin conditions can be another culprit for itchy legs. There are several types of skin conditions that can cause itching. The symptoms themselves may be mild or severe, and may be accompanied by a rash. Skin conditions that cause itchy legs include:
- various types of eczema
- Chickenpox and shingles, which are both caused by the same virus
- folliculitiswhich develops due to inflammation of the body’s hair follicles
- neurodermatitisa skin condition that causes intense and chronic itching of the skin that worsens when scratched
- Ringworm, which is a fungal infection that affects the skin and causes a ring-shaped rash
Certain medicines can cause your legs to itch, such as:
- prescription-strength pain relievers, such as opioids
- antimalarialintended to treat or prevent malaria
- Hydroxyethyl starcha drug used to help prevent shock after a person has lost a lot of blood
- some blood pressure medications
- anticancer drug
There are many insect bites and leave an itchy feeling. For example, mosquito bites often cause an itchy feeling that tends to subside once the bite heals.
If the culprit is not identified, the itching sensation can be intense and can become chronic, which can sometimes be the case with bed bugs, mites, or lice. If you suspect you have been bitten or infected by these insects, it is best to seek immediate treatment to remove the bugs from your skin, scalp, and home.
Treating itchy legs largely depends on the cause. If your itchy legs are caused by dry skin, restoring moisture and hydration can help relieve symptoms. There are also topical lotions, such as hydrocortisone cream, available over the counter to help relieve itching caused by certain skin conditions, such as eczema.
Other ingredients to look out for when buying an anti-itch cream are Plumox and Ceramide. Studies have shown that these two ingredients are well tolerated and effective in relieving itching.
If your skin condition is more severe, you may need a topical prescription to help manage and control flare-ups that cause itching. In other cases where the itching stems from a systemic or systemic disorder, you will need to speak with a healthcare provider for treatment.
How to Stop Itching
When to see a healthcare provider
Many itchy legs can be significantly improved with over-the-counter products and home remedies. However, in some cases you will need to see a healthcare professional:
- Intense itching that doesn’t go away with moisturizer or other home remedies
- itching with a rash that continues to get worse
- Itching can interfere with your ability to sleep well
Any symptoms of another disease, along with itchy legs, may indicate an underlying medical condition. In this case, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Since dry or irritated skin is the most common reason a person may have itchy legs, it’s usually nothing to worry about. Although underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, and other skin conditions can sometimes be the cause of itchy legs.
You may be able to treat itching with a moisturizer at home to help heal dry skin. However, if you experience other symptoms, such as a rash or itching, that don’t go away over time, you need to see your doctor.
Which cream is best for itchy skin?
Itchy legs can be annoying, especially if the feeling interferes with your daily life. The good news is that itchy legs are usually harmless and, in most cases, are usually caused by a treatable dry skin or skin condition. Getting proper treatment or speaking with your doctor about your symptoms will put you on the path to itching-free legs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my legs so itchy at night?
There are various things that can cause itchy legs at night. For example, bites from insects such as bed bugs may cause increased itching at night. That being said, restless legs syndrome is often the culprit behind nighttime itching.
Can Poor Circulation Cause Itchy Legs?
Poor circulation occurs when the body is not circulating blood the way it should. While itching isn’t a typical symptom of poor circulation, it may be. People with diabetes often experience poor circulation, a condition that can lead to symptoms of itchy legs.