Itchy Leg Skin
No one knows exactly what causes the itch sensation, but it likely has to do with chemicals triggering nerve signals to the brain, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD. However, itchy leg skin can be so irritating that you need to scratch it even though you know scratching will aggravate the problem. Persistent itching may warrant a trip to the doctor, but you should be able to treat the problem from home without a formal diagnosis or special medication.
Itchy leg skin may occur by itself or on your entire body. It may occur without other skin changes but it may also be accompanied by bumps, blisters, spots, redness or a scaly skin texture, according to the Mayo Clinic. The itching can range in severity from mild to intense.
Itchy leg skin with no other obvious skin changes is most often caused by dryness, which typically occurs due to environmental factors such a low humidity, showering in water that is too hot or showering too often, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your leg itching may be due to an allergic reaction, irritation or skin condition if it is accompanied by signs such as bumps, blisters and irritated redness. Potential skin conditions include psoriasis and scabies, potential irritants include wool and chemicals in soaps and potential allergy triggers include poison ivy and cosmetics, according to the Mayo Clinic. Itching that is limited to the legs is less likely to occur due to internal diseases or reactions to drugs.
Itchy leg skin can have many potential causes but most treatment plans involve the same basic home care strategies, according to the AAD. The Academy recommends that you can reduce your chances of having itchy leg skin by doing the following: using lukewarm water when you shower, using only mild cleansers that have a low pH, fully rinsing soap from your body, gently blotting the skin dry and immediately following up showers with a moisturizing cream. You may sprinkle dry oatmeal into a cool bath or use a colloidal oatmeal bath product if your skin needs soothing. Dress in light and loose clothing to reduce skin irritation.
When to Get Help
Itching and scratching at your leg skin for too long may lead to a condition called neurodermatitis, characterized by patches of thick and leathery skin. Patches may also be raw and darker than your other skin. Scratching your skin too often may also cause permanent scars or lead to a bacterial infection. See your doctor if self-treatment doesn't relieve your itchy leg skin within three weeks, recommends Health Services at Columbia University.
Medical treatments for itchy leg skin vary by condition. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as oral antihistamines for allergies and corticosteroid creams to reduce itching caused by inflammation, according to the Mayo Clinic. She may also prescribe wet dressings, which are damp cotton materials that cover medicated cream on the skin to help it absorb.
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