Itchy lower legs -- HELP!! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 11-06-2004, 01:56 AM - Thread Starter
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My lower legs began itching earlier this Summer. It wasn't too bad, at first, and I just kept slathering-on mild olive oil-based creams to keep the skin moisturized. But, it got worse.

This went on for a couple of months. I tried several different approaches to self-treatment:

No bath products: no difference.

Not shaving: this made it worse.

Shaving with a new razor: made no difference.

Stopped using any creams: worse.

Used just extra virgin olive oil: smelled nice, felt nice, didn't stop the itching.

By September, the itching was so bad, I had patches of raw skin that was thickening on my lower legs. These raw patches were not due to scratching (it took every bit of self control to keep from clawing at it, but I didn't knowing it would only make it worse!), but from whatever was causing this. The rough skin was showing up on my upper legs, as well, but not to the same extent. There was/is no other part of my body affected.

By simple deduction, we eliminated bath products, clothing, cleaning products (both personal and washing machine), diet, cosmetics and other personal products. None of these things could be the cause... UGH!

Finally, dh said go see a doctor! So, I did. She was stumped, but says she felt I had some sort of contact dermatitis (though I KNOW I hadn't been in contact with anything!). Gave me a RX for oral steroids (which I took, but reluctantly) and a powerful topical RX cortocosteroid cream to use for 10 days. Took the pills (made my stomach upset, but I took 'em) and used the cream morning, noon and night.

The cream did seem to help. I've been using it for 6 weeks now, and the rash/raw skin has disappeared. So did the itching. I could finally wear shorts again (I'd been living in long pants and below-the-knee skirts to hide my awful-looking calves), just in time for Winter!! Ah, relief.......

HOWEVER, now I have not used the cream for 3 days (I used up all the original and refill RX). Today, I noticed the itching beginning again. Tonight, in the bath, it was all I could do to keep from scrubbing my legs as hard as possible with a rough scrubber!!

I plan on calling the doc on Monday. I'm guessing she'll want to continue the topical cream, but I am not fond of the idea of being on steroid medication, topical or not, for such a long period of time. She did mention doing a skin punch biopsy if the problem continued, but didn't say what her thoughts might be for ordering such a thing.

So, if you've read this far (THANK YOU), I ask if any of this sounds like anything to anyone????

Thanks, in advance....
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#2 of 7 Old 11-06-2004, 04:46 AM
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Could it be eczema? When I was in college, and then again the summer after I graduated, i had something very similar happen to me. The itching was unbearable!!!! And the skin on the backs of my legs (mostly behind my knees) did get thicker and very red. My diagnosis was "atopic dermatitis" which, it turns out, is another way of saying "eczema."

I'm glad to hear the steroids are helping you, though, as they didn't help me at all. It just went away after a few weeks (maybe two months the first time, i don't remember too clearly - just remember the intense itching and the pain/pleasure of scratching it soooooo hard).

Since you're going back to the doctor, you may want to check with her about it possibly being eczema. If it is, there are non-steroidal creams that you could try. Protopic and elidel are the two main ones that I know of, though they weren't available when I needed help. Be sure to read the package inserts (or do a web search) for the list of possible side effects, as it's always good to be informed. It's generally accepted, though, that they're preferable to steroids.

Side note - I may have missed mention of this, but you may want to try an elimination diet as another way of approaching the problem. As our dd has inherited the eczema, we have gone down the natural road as well and the elimination diet helped us find some ways of preventing the eczema (i.e. taking milk and corn out of her diet helps a bunch) so that we don't have to deal as much with suppressing the symptoms. Fewer symptoms, less need for medications.

Oh, at risk of wandering towards rambling on, you may also want to consider that it could maybe, possibly, be a dermal (skin) yeast infection. When I was researching eczema and all possible treatments back when I realized that dd was affected by it, I did run across a few discussion fora where some people said they had finally found relief when they were properly diagnosed with a yeast infection - anti-fungals are the treatment to use if it is. It's probably unlikely (though still worth ruling out) in your case, though, as I seem to recall that steroids would have no effect on yeast infections.

Hmm. Well, I think I'd better stop typing now and go to bed. Hope this helped at least a tiny bit!!!
Good luck finding a solution.
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#3 of 7 Old 11-06-2004, 05:16 AM
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Does it have anything to do with your socks?

My FIL suffers from this and it isn't related to his clothing. But he won't try any dietary changes, which I believe are important.

Try not to use the steroids for long - they will make your skin thin.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#4 of 7 Old 11-06-2004, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback!!

I will ask the doc when I see her next week about the eczema. I will also ask about non-steroid topicals.

It isn't related to any clothing, socks included. When I do wear socks, they are the really low type (I call them golf socks) that do not go above the ankle. No problems where the socks (or any other clothing) touch.

Could diet really play into this? I mean, wouldn't I have this itching/rashing elsewhere, as well? It is only on my legs, all around the lower legs (but, NOT behind or on front of the knees at all) and only on the front of my thighs, not the backs. :

I so know that "pain/pleasure" feeling of scratching hard!!! I admit I have done it a couple of times, but stopped myself before I did any harm!! Oh, it felt soooooooooooo goooooooood!!!! I teased my husband and said if you want to really get me with some foreplay, scratch my legs!!

One last question, I am beginning menopause ( hot flashes & minor mood swings ). Could this be related to that??????
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#5 of 7 Old 11-06-2004, 10:24 PM
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How often do you shower/bath? Too much water can dry out your legs. I can't shave or let my leg hair grow out all the way. At either extreme mine get very itchy. So, about once every two months I "trim" my leg hair w/dh's hair clippers. : I think you should try using pure calendula cream. Right after you get out of the shower put it on and put some pants on right over (for some reason my legs itch more when cold and/or exposed to air). Once it's getting better you might try to find a good oatmeal based lotion for your legs. I did go to a doctor before for dry skin and she said one of the best things is to only take 2-3 showers per week. That's also good you're not using any soap. Americans really go overboard on the whole cleaning thing. We're not *that* dirty! :LOL
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#6 of 7 Old 11-07-2004, 12:03 AM
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grahamsmom, I think I've found my itch sister!

My lower legs itch too. Like crazy! When I am pregnant it is even worse. During my last pregnancy the midwife took one look at my legs and was pretty shocked!

I have also tried everything. I still don't have an answer!

Are your hair follicles swollen? Do you get scabby spots?

Noxema sometimes helps but it is driving me crazy! I've had this problem off and on since I was a teen.
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#7 of 7 Old 11-07-2004, 01:00 AM
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grahamsmom I could have written your post, except for the bit about the dr.

I don't have any answers for you but my legs were so bad that I was covered in scabs from scratching. I have been using a cream made by a fairly local company called Carolla's Beeswax Skin Cream, it is olive oil, beeswax, water and natural borax. I bought if from Whole Foods, but here is there direct phone number 970 472 0200, because it is locally made, I am not sure other Whole Foods would carry it. I has worked wonders, I do still have some small dry patches on my legs and they do still itch a bit, but it is so much better than it was even a week ago. It was so bad at one point I had scratched the backs of my kness until it hurt to walk. I also got it on the tops of my thighs. I do know for me that cooked food contributed to it getting really bad. If I am on a specific raw food diet, it gets better, but I have been on the cooked food wagon for a while and it is so hard to get off it once I am on it!

I am Rhome
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