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Severe Itching on Legs

Over the past few months I have had severe itching on my legs literally from top to bottom. I have tried Benadryl with no luck and I am constantly putting Calamine lotion on my legs. The Calamine lotion usually helps for about 15 minutes but then the itching returns. I am at my breaking point with this. The itching causes pain and it feels like needles on my legs. I scratch them so much that I have fingernail marks all over my legs and sometimes even brusies. This causes my legs to look horrible. I'm so ashamed that I won't wear dresses or shorts. I haven't been to the doctor yet just because everything I have read hasn't given me much hope on a clear diagnosis. This has been an ongoing problem usually I have the severe itching for a few months then it will go away and out of the blue will appear again. I haven't changed laundry detergant, soap, lotion, etc. Please any help or insight you could give would be greatly appreciated! I really don't know how much more of this scratching my legs or me can take!  Oh and I noticed on some of the other posts people who had the same symptoms as myself were telling where they live...I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not but if so I live in Alabama.
82 Responses
727090 tn?1268842948
Hello Ferg2001..i just read your post and i'm just wondering....have you tried using a small amount of olive oil? And if i were you i would try to change your body soap to Carress. I've had the same problem but not as severe as yours. Do you notice it much worse after shaving?
Using olive oil and changing your soap may help. Although I m not a dr. any advice is worth it until you get a chance to make an appointment with a dr.
I also figure olive oil considering that is what they tell ppl to use on there dry scalp..

I hope this helps ya out!! Keep me posted.

Avatar universal
I haven't tried the olive oil but at this point I will try just about anything. Yes, the itching is always worse after shaving. Shaving has become a very painful thing for me it just seems to irritate my legs even more. I will let you know if the olive oil helps. Thank you!
Avatar universal
hi ferg! i had the same problem as you a few months ago, i was told to take hayfever and allergi tablets and use talc powder, so i done that for about 2 weeks and it had stoped the itching.
Avatar universal
I have the same exact thing. It started a couple years ago, happened for awhile on one leg and eventually went away. Since then I have it come suddenly out of nowhere, both legs- though usually starts on one first. It always starts low, around my ankles. I can scratch till my legs bleed and have trouble stopping because it feels good and relieve the horrible itching. eventually bumps appear under the surface like a rash, and even when I can see the bumps, I can feel them. The more I scratch the higher it seems to travel. The highest point is mid- calf area but usually stops there. It will go on for a couple months, maybe, and then as suddenly as it appeared, go away. I am not on any medication but take a Benadryl every night for nose stuffiness. (and have for quite a long time). My legs are actually hurting now from scratching so much. One time I found (I've tried them all) an anti-itch over the counter cream (generic) that helped a lot but haven't been able to find it since. The skin on my legs has started to feel leathery and "dead" all the time, thick, and even in between the outbreaks, doesn't return to normal, ever.

I am at my wits end. I did go to the doctor about it a couple years ago when it first started and he said "it's probably dermatitis" and gave me some cream, but - guess what- didn't work or prevent it from happening again. Any real help will be so appreciated!
Avatar universal
Are you guys ready for this?!  I have figured it out!  Im just like everyone here I have been itching my legs for over three years now and hating every minute of it.  My girlfriend cant sleep good at night and I cant sleep at all.  All of you are right about how to treat it and im going to tell you why.  I just figured it out after I saw these posts and talked to a random person that i knew.  I did alot of research and if you dont believe me you can look it up as far and long as you want and it will all come back to one thing!  SULFATE!  We are all allergic to sulfate!  
Wo wo wo  I now your all screaming for more.. so ill feed you baby birds!

People who quit eating bread and felt better well guess what?  Bread has sulfate in it.  A lot of foods have sulfate it, and when i say a lot i mean A LOT!  But most of these foods have low dosage in them so they dont bother us unless you eat a crap load of sandwiches (like me, im a sucker when it comes to meat and cheese between to thick slices of....) sorry lost focus.  Where was i... O yeah.  So the foods that use this sulfate, use it to keep foods fresh longer by keep fruits from browning to quick and bacteria growing on them.

Ok, now for the people that have to use unscented products and all that air smelling like nothing stuff.  Yuck!  Well your right!  Most of the good stuff has sulfate in it.  This sux!  I dont know about you guys but i like to smell good, especially for the ladies!  No girl ever says "I like the way you smell like nothing, it reminds of a time of no where"!  And before it was worth it, smelling good all day for a sleepless night of hell.  Ehh now that im spoken for,  hell no!  Give me the unscented crap!  But dont give up! There are alot of companies that make NON-SULFATE shampoos/soaps etc.. So scrub away with that ocean breeze!

Next.....The stress/depression folks,  well hey let me make it easy for you.  Stress/depression = more food = more.... you guessed it..SULFATES!!!!  and to make it worse alot of the medications for those problems have some kind or other sulfate-ish ingredient in them.  Sorry guys cheer up everything will be ok.  Look at the bright side at least you will smell good!

Oh and this, what im about to tell you, i think is the worst part of being allergic to sulfate.  So, i live in a big city in Florida thats always cutting corners to save money, called Jacksonville.  I have only been here for a little over three years. Huh,  thats about how long Ive had the itchy leg itus.  What happens is that natural waters/springs contain a high level of sulfate and the cities with the crappy water purification habits tend not to filter all of it out,  So this why we all get those little red, five minute rashes when we get out of the shower along with the bloodshot or itchy eyes.  O that reminds me temperature does matter too, cause your body tries to secrete this when your allergic to it to get it out of your body so it tries to push it out of your pores. Thats why saunas are bad for us (if we r not watching what we eat/drink if so, then they rock!) cause we leak sulfate that irritates the skin.  Hot showers feel awesome until we get out into the steam filled room,

So yes everyone is right for dulling or suppressing the symptoms with their methods and most of you were right with the problem you just didnt know why.  So now we do know, and i dont know about you but im feeling better all ready!

So if you want to still eat/drink/use all of that stuff that contains sulfate go right ahead just limit your intake, or saltwater bath after, or lotion, or run with natural honey in your mouth into the ocean with fresh sunscreen and dont forget the unscented lotion afterward to keep all the salty moisture in.  Hey as long as it works keep doing it just keep in mind the real cause of all our agony.  SULFATE, F^*#ing SULFATE, i hate you, you ruined my beautiful hairy legs!

If you are parents definitely look at these web sites cause if your kid has asthma sulfate can hurt them also.

Just so everyone knows that this allergy is just a random occurrence to random people nothing causes this as far as they know but for some reason though ever place i read said it happens to people more it there twenties.  Hmm two more years and ill be 30 so hopefully ill be safe.

Here is a website that has all the foods that contain sulfate

and for those skeptics that dont believe me here is a website that you can start your own research with

Its not all the research but its a good place to start.

I hope this helps everyone!

Good luck and quit scratchin!
Avatar universal
I've had this very same itching problem for about 15 years. Mine is most prominent in the cold months. My itching is on my lower legs usually on the shin or calf and the itch seems to track down the vein. The itching/scratching is usually in the evening-early morning, very intense and will sometimes end with blood. I found that I was able to get a little relief when I was a smoker. When it would wake me up in the middle of the night I would go have anywhere between 1/2 and a whole cigarette and it would dull the itch to where I could go back to sleep. My mother said her dad had the same issue and that his Dr. prescribed a med for it, it was a steroid and when I looked it up it was primarily used for (low, I'm guessing) blood pressure issues. I told this same story to my Dr. and she told me to stop taking hot showers. I wanted to choke her and say it's not dry skin!!!!

So in my opinion, my situation could be a blood pressure issue, (that is hereditary, my grandfather and my oldest daughter). Though my blood pressure has never been an issue, maybe when my heart is beating it's slowest in sleep it's dropping to a point that causes this itching and waking me up. My grandfather had the steroid Rx and smoking which boosts blood pressure are my clues.

I came searching tonight to see if maybe this sensation we're feeling and assuming is itching really is something else hence why scratching just won't make it go away.
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