Itchy legs can put you into embarrassment. Imagine yourself going on a date with your muse and at the dinner table you duck your head often to reach the ankle or toe to get rid of that itch. Well this act may project an impression that you are careless about your cleanliness and body hygiene and even worse enough to ruin your evening. Itch is a state of a suffering which is less than a disease and more than a mosquito bite or something similar. When an allergen or antibody enters our body, the histamine bursts itself to release the immunity cells present inside, which then fight with the foreign elements. So, when histamine bursts and the immunity cells begin fighting with the allergens we get the itch. Usually it is so that the itch stops after a few seconds or minutes of irritation, but when it doesn’t, one must not neglect it.
There are many factors or causes of itching and the severity varies on the basis of the root cause of discomfort. One of the most prone areas of itch infliction is our legs and genitals. Let’s see what are the various causes of itchy legs along with the remedies and treatment methods for each.
A. Poor Hygiene
Our body undergoes a continuous cycle of renewal of skin cells over the time. Meaning after a while the old skin cells fall off or dries out on the skin surface, giving way to new skin cells. Therefore, sedimentation of dead skin cells, persistent sweat and deposition of dust can irritate the skin nerve endings thus causing itch. Heat is generated due to day long cover of clothes on body like trousers that can also aggravate itch. Poor hygiene of legs is the obvious reason for itchy legs in almost 30% cases of allergies and itching.
There is no treatment for poor hygiene, rather there are some precautionary measures to care of hygiene issues. If you maintain the basics of thorough cleaning of legs, you need not do anything else as a part of treatment. Take Regular bath with lukewarm water. Use soap which contain moisturizers and ensure that you wipe and gently scrub your legs with a clean towel after the bath.
B. Dryness of Skin
This is the most common reasons for itchy legs. It may be so that someone has naturally dry skin as an inherited trait, in such case a regular skin massage is a must. In other non hereditary cases dryness of skin is caused due to either excess use of soaps for cleaning or using soaps which are devoid of moisturizer. Additionally poor nutrition and lack of food which provides ‘essential’ fatty acids for skin health can also be a cause for dry skin of legs. Old age is also a factor which induces itch, such a cause is known as senile xerosis.
Always use quality soaps and those which possess a sufficient amount of moisturizer in it. Lack of sufficient intake of water can also cause legs to itch, so one should drink at least 8 full large glasses of water throughout the day other than pre and post meal water intake. Additionally avoid prolonged stay outside in the sun or use umbrella if the situation demands you to stay outside frequently.
C. Keratosis Pilaris or Leg Acne
Acne is nothing but red colored bumps or pimples on the skin as a result of thickened hair follicles. It may also include white heads or black heads. Acne usually appears on the interior surface of the joint between thighs and pelvis, buttocks and face skin. Its a fact that buttocks and thighs are almost always covered by clothes and skin in that area doesn’t get good air circulation. This leads to profuse perspiration and this accumulation causes Acne on buttocks and thighs. With the ever changing fashion in clothes and fabric materials most of the time we land up with apparels which are not skin healthy and some of the artificial fiber clothes like polyester or nylon can even trigger acne with pus formation.
For early or mild acne occurrences on legs and butts the best and the natural way of treatment is using a scrub which contains grape fruit extracts. Grapefruit because it has some natural chemicals such as Glycoside and salicylic acid. These chemicals are known to be superb antioxidant and just about mild enough to be applied to sensitive or delicate skin. Moreover, these chemicals do not any side effects. In case, if the acne is severe and recurring, you should see a dermatologist and follow his prescription.
D. Barber’s itch or Folliculitis
There is a peculiar type of bacteria by the scientific name ‘Staphylococcus aureus’. When the hair follicles on the legs get infected by this bacteria, there is a development of small red colored bumps or blisters having white centers similar to acne in areas near thighs, buttocks, joint between leg and torso and face. This kind of development is nothing but Barber’s itch or Folliculitis. Generally these bumps are itchy and even cause burning sensation. Folliculitis is usually a result of damage of hair follicle while shaving, friction between skin and clothes or in case of obstruction of a skin pores
Mild folliculitis usually heals naturally without any external medication. However, in case of aggravated folliculitis the first treatment option is to use antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin, Mycitracin or Mupirocin. Along with that one can even try some vested antibacterial soaps; this will help in stunting the recurring growth of this kind of infection. At the end if the infection is proliferated to a larger as well as deeper area of skin, the patient needs to undergo an oral course of antibiotics such as dicloxacillin and cephalosporin.
E. Jock Itch
A fungal infection on and around the groin region or upper thigh is called as ‘the Jock Itch’. Jock itch appears reddish or brown patch an it is very itchy. Another form of this infection has no visible signs or rash or red patch. It has been confirmed that people with diabetes or obesity are more prone to Jock itch. The main causes for developing Jock itch is regular use of tight undergarments, sweating, friction between thigh fat while walking.
The treatment for jock itch varies in terms of quantity and number of medicines There are classified courses available from minimum potency to maximum. Lets take a look at these courses.
1. Mild to medium potency course A short 1 week course which includes topical steroid cream based ointment containing ‘triamcinolone’ in 0.025% once or twice a day applied over the affected areas
2. Mild over the counter course A short 1 week course which includes over-the-counter topical steroid cream based ointment containing ‘hydrocortisone (Cortaid)’ once to three times a day applied over the affected areas
3. Immunomodulators course Using topical Immunomodulators twice a day to recover from deep spread infection. Some of the names of Immunomodulators are Pimecrolimus cream or Tacrolimus ointment. But these ointments are not officially approved for jock but for more serious diseases like dermatitis and eczema.
F. Unfit Runner’s Itch
This is a unique type of leg irritation which affects those people who restart cardio exercises like running or treadmill etc. Because the person has all of a sudden started vigorous exercise after a prolonged time, the arteries have to quickly expand to generate higher amount of blood flow in legs so that the demand of more oxygen gets fulfilled. In the course of this process some of the then lethargic arteries do not expand properly resulting into mild rash or itching on legs.
As such there is no specific treatment for this syndrome. If the person maintain a regular regime the itching or rashes will subside within 4 to 5 days as the arteries tend to adapt to the regular increase in the demand of oxygen through blood.
G. Heat Rash or Cholinergic Urticaria
This is a kind of rash which appears red in color over swollen bumps or patches, specifically in those areas of body which are always covered in clothes. Heat rash is basically an allergic reaction against the physical stimuli such as vigorous excersize, wearing tight clothes, prolonged exposure to sun, cold, spicy food and even emotional stress.
In case of heat rash, the patient is given an injection of ‘acetylcholine. This remedy is known to produce good results against heat rash. Also the patient will get quick relief after this treatment. In advanced stages of Cholinergic Urticaria, certain antihistamine drugs are quite effective. For example ‘oral hydroxyzine’ has a property to nullify the effect of allergens for a considerable time. And it thus offers time to the white blood cells to strengthen their rapport against the allergens. The person affected by heat rash is advised to avoid tight fitting clothes and taking shower with lukewarm water.
H. Exercise or Induced Anaphylaxis (EIA)
This is one of the severe kind of allergic leg itches. Certain foods have natural chemicals and acidic fluids which may trigger allergic reaction. But only affect in certain activity-specific situations. As an example, a person starts exercise after having food which included herbal supplements, nuts, shellfish or even alcohol or drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, with a less than 24 hours of gap is likely to experience EIA. The broad symptoms of EIA are intense itching over the legs, rise in body temperature, dizziness ant vomiting.
For quick results and relief from itching, the affected person should take an intramuscular injections containing a substance called ‘adrenalin as early as possible.
I. Itchy Pants syndrome
This kind of itching is caused if the person wears fitting pants made of synthetic material.
Always go for natural fabric materials like cotton. Moreover one should wash the new clothes before it’s first use.
J. After Shower Itch
This is the most common and mildest type of allergic itch. Our body skin mechanism has it’s own way of signals to explain that the experience is good or bad. When we take bath in hot water where the temperature is bearable to us but not necessarily for the skin cells. Therefore, as the name suggests this kind of itch occurs when there is a prolonged use of hot water while taking bath or shower. Additionally our body doesn’t go along with all kinds of cosmetics and soaps; certain antibacterial soaps are so concentrated that along with the bacteria on the skin it also removes the important protective layer which is by nature meant to protect our skin. This causes a discomfort and induces itch, precisely same as after-shower itch.
In case if a person gets severe skin itch over the legs including inflammation near the groin area, one should go for some antihistamine agents such as Benadryl (orally) which should be taken 30 mins prior to shower.