Here are seven reasons that you could have itchy lower legs and ankles.
Allergic contact dermatitis
If you have contact with an allergen — a typically harmless substance that triggers an immune response — your skin can become inflamed, irritated, and itchy. That response is referred to allergic contact dermatitis. Items that are known to cause allergic contact dermatitis for some people include:
Treatment: The primary treatment is to avoid contact with the substance that triggers the reaction. Applying moisturizer to the inflamed area or using over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch medications, such as calamine lotion, can relieve the itchiness.
Xerosis is another name for very dry skin. This condition often isn’t accompanied by any noticeable rash, but if you start scratching the area to relieve the itch, you may start to see red bumps, lines, and irritation from the scratching. Xerosis is more common for people as they age and their skin becomes drier. The itchiness can be triggered by the dry heat in your home during winter or a hot bath.
Treatment: Applying moisturizers three or four times per day can help relieve the dryness and itchiness. It’s also recommended that you take shorter baths or showers and use warm water as opposed to hot.
Itching is a common symptom of diabetes. Itchy skin can be caused by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. Sometimes the skin itchiness can be caused by complications of diabetes, such as poor circulation, kidney disease, or nerve damage.
Treatment: Diabetes should be treated by a doctor. Itchy skin as a result of diabetes can be addressed by using a mild soap when you bathe and applying a good moisturizer.
Diseases other than diabetes
Itchy legs can be a symptom or sign of diseases other than diabetes, including:
- kidney failure
- Sjögren syndrome
Treatment: Appropriate treatment for the underlying cause of the itchy legs should be recommended and supervised by your doctor. Your doctor might also recommend specific topical treatments and lifestyle changes to address the itchiness.
Insects such as fleas can result in red bumps, hives, and intense itching. Also, bites from mites such as chiggers can cause itching.
Treatment: Once diagnosed, a doctor might recommend a hydrocortisone cream or local anesthetic. Often, a good OTC moisturizer containing lactate, menthol, or phenol will help relieve the inflammation and itchiness. You should also check to be sure that your living area is not infested.
If you don’t wash regularly and properly, dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells can build up on the legs, irritate them, and make them feel itchy. This can be aggravated by heat, dry air, and contact with your clothing.
Treatment: Bathing or showering regularly in warm water with mild soap and applying a moisturizer afterward will clean the skin and help keep it from drying out.
Stasis or gravitational eczema
Especially common among people living with vessel disorders such as varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, stasis or gravitational eczema can cause itchy, swollen, reddish-purple patches on the lower legs.
Treatment: While treating you for the underlying conditions, your doctor might recommend applying corticosteroids to the affected areas — to lessen your discomfort — and keeping your legs elevated. Your doctor might also recommend compression stockings.