Why do my legs itch?

Dr Mark Porter / 27 December 2016

Dr Porter advises a reader whose itchy legs worsen when the weather gets colder.

Q: Can you suggest something for itchy legs?  The problem mainly affects my shins and is always worse when the weather turns cold.  There is nothing to see but the itching drives me mad, particularly at night.  I am sixty and in otherwise good health. 

A: There are a number of conditions that can cause itching in the absence of any obvious skin problems but the most common in people of your age is dry skin – particularly over the shins.  It is often worse in the winter months because the atmosphere is much drier exacerbating the problem.

The skin may not look particularly dry but that doesn’t mean rehydrating the skin won’t help.  Use an exfoliating pad, or coarse sponge, in the bath to remove any dead skin from the affected area and then apply moisturiser immediately afterwards while the skin is still wet (just pat dry with a towel).  You should then apply the moisturiser after every shower / bath.  Don’t use soap on your shins, and I would avoid bubble baths too.

If that doesn’t work talk to your GP who may suggest a blood test to check for underlying causes of itchiness like iron deficiency and liver problems.  

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