Undiagnosed Symptoms Community
25.1k Members
Avatar universal

Itchy Legs after showering or swimming

I have been experiencing extremely painful itching in the legs, which starts about 10-15 minutes after getting out of the shower and will last about 15-30 minutes. It started out by happening occasionally but now it occurs after every shower and has started happening after getting out of the swimming pool. The itching is getting more intense and I'm afraid that it will continue to just get worse and last longer.  Water is the only thing so far that triggers this.  This is not a topical or dry skin itch, it's like my nerve endings are going wild inside my legs.   Nothing seems to relieve the itch, it just has to "run it's course".  I've tried different lotions, not using soap, not shaving my legs, warm water, cold water, not drying off, change the floor rugs.... nothing makes a differnce.  I found where this problem had been discussed on this forum a few years ago but no one seems to be able to find a solution. Is there anyone out there that has found a solution to this every painful, unexplained problem?
241 Responses
143952 tn?1237868141
have you consulted a doctor?  my brother-in-law has developed a similar sounding problem.  he cannot take a shower because he begins itching all over his body after he gets out.  he now has to take baths, which greatly lessens the itching.  apparently the itching is initiated by the shower spray hitting the body.  also, he has found information on the internet.  i guess it's an actual medical condition, but not very common.  good luck :)
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I was beginning to think I was the only one that has ever had this happen to them.  I have the itching pretty much all over at this point.  It started out that it only happened on my arms but it gradually progressed.
My doctor doesn't know what is happening to me.  He suggested that I use antihistamines before I shower.  I don't want to do this so I discussed the situation with my pharmacist.  He suggested that I might be reacting to the chlorine in the water.
I went on holidays and spent time with friends who don't have city water, they have a well.
I still had some minor itching but nothing like what normally happened.
I've since bought a chlorine shower filter.  I am having some success with it.  The results are similar to when I was using the well water.  I've had an itching episode since then and I realized that when I would vigorously was my skin the itching was worse.
I'm still trying to find out more about my condition but am having some relief.

However, I no longer go swimming in a chlorinated pool.

Hope this helps.


143952 tn?1237868141
wow - i would have never thought of the chlorine in the water.  i'll suggest it to my brother-in-law.  since the doctor recommended it, you might try taking a low level antihistimine such as benedryl if you shower in the evening.  some people have a "sleepy" reaction to benedryl, although it wears off after using it awhile.  good luck!
Avatar universal
I think I may have found the answer.  It's called Aquagenic Pruritis.  If you do a google search, you will find a lot of good information.  I've been suffering from the same thing - unbearable itching after showering.  Like a thousand needles were under my skin.  I would sometimes cry from sheer frustration.  After reading another forum, some people on there had found this, I looked it up and did a little research, and it's dead on.

I haven't found a cure by finding the name for this, but one thing that's helped me is immediately after showering, using my hair dryer on my legs.  It takes approximately 8 to 10 minutes, but the itching subsides.  It apparently has something to do with the moisture/water drying on your legs, air touching your legs, and the drying.  I don't quite understand it all, but I know that as soon as I got out of the shower or pool and regular air hit my legs, I would panic because the itching would start.  From reading different sites, hot water bottles, heating pads and even small space heaters work.

Nothing else worked for me.  And I tried absolutely everything.  Please look this up - at the very least you might be like me - knowing you're not crazy!
Avatar universal
I suffered from all the debilitating itchy leg symptoms described here, primarily on Sunday mornings when I was extra stressed trying to get the family out the door in time to teach Sunday school. Since I always change the sheets on Saturday, my husband suggested that it might be the detergent/fabric softener. Switching to unscented, hypo-allergenic products did help to alleviate the problem, and today I am symptom free. Of course, my children are grown and I no longer have the stress levels, either ...
Avatar universal
starting when i was a little girl i would get out of the tub or shower and would scratch my legs till they went raw. They itched so bad i would cry. I tried every kind of lotion nothing worked. It stopped for a while and recently it started up again and it itches so bad i cant do anything but sit there and hold them. I dont know what is wrong with me. Its nice to know that im not the only one with this issue.
Avatar universal
My Dermatologist prescribed Cutivate lotion ($150) my not coast you as much. Also prescribed Doxycycline(capsules). These both are for fighting bacteria. Have worked for me thus far. Itching has stoped since taking the meds.Legs and feet have subsided, with a little itching here and there. But I am also still on the meds. Hope this will help. It mite be a form of bacteria that some of you are dealing with. Rather than an alergic reaction to water as I was told by one dematologist.
Avatar universal
hi all!  
am i joining the club or welcoming you into the club.  tonight is the first time i decided to research this...i can help a bit i hope.  i know the itching is unbearable ..i just finished a little one a few minutes ago after coming out of the shower.  this is what helps me...my dermatologist recomended lowering the temp of the water of the shower to room temp but what really does the trick for me (unfortunately not a solution but a great band aid) is putting pants on immediately ..pajamas or sweats whatever. hope this helps you all and i will continue researching.  good luck.

Avatar universal
hey all...maybe im over reacting ( i hope not ) but i think i can help.  i just got out of the shower and i feel fine.  now i pulled all the tricks tonight and if you want exactly what the solution to the problem is then i guess you need to narrow the variables; but i think the goal is to simply get rid of the problem - not so much to find the cause..
anyway- i lowerd the temperature of the water for about 5 minutes before shutting the water to about room temperature(70degrees); throughout the shower i marched in place periodically to keep the blood flow even(which i really think played a big factor); then i grabed the towel and dried off in the shower with the curtain still closed so i wouldnt be exposed quickly to the cooler air; i also patted dry, no rubbing dry; when i came out i put a bit of gold bond powder(little bit), and i immediately put my pajamas on and kept the legs moving.  I HAD NO ITCHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
Hi- on a side note, have any of you gotten this from exercising / sweating?  I get it from showering as well as sweating.  I've never really thought much about it before until I saw this post.  In the case of sweating, it can't be chlorine, right?
Avatar universal
ive never really gotten it from sweating.....
Avatar universal
It is from not drinking enough water.  I never drink water. I hate it and this use to happen to me. I bought some flavored water and started making myself drink it and ever since the problem has almost gone completely away. You have to drink plenty of water. If you don't - when you are in the shower your body is soaking up as much as it can b/c your body knows it will be a long time before it will get water again. Then when your out of the shower and begin to dry it trys to get that extra little bit of moisture and then your pores begin to close back to normal size.
Hope this helps
Avatar universal
I read an interesting article on the internet that said the source of an itch after your shower could be the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate in shampoos and body washes.  It's one of the ingredients used to make a lather.  I have been using perfume/dye-free body washes, fabric softener and laundry detergents for years but it hasn't made a difference.  I noticed that my shampoo and fragrance-free "for sensitive skin" body wash contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).  My legs itch after a shower and sometimes other times for no apparent reason.  Just my lower legs though--nowhere else.  Sometimes it's painfully itchy--you guy know what I mean!  I use a combo of benadryl ointment and oral benadryl, which of course puts me to sleep so I can't take it during the day.
Avatar universal

You could be itchy from the chlorine in the water and also in the air running around in swimming fools. Also the floors of the showers in swimming pools are usually washed with a mix of pure chlorine liquid and water - if floors not rinsed well the chlorine lingers in the atmosphere until completely vaporized.

Does this feel strange when you also take a shower at home?  If not it could also be a nervous issue in the sense that when you swim you are irritating some nerves - test and see if swimming a different stroke would aggravate the feeling. One stroke a day.

Good luck.
Avatar universal
Like all of you I am also glad to find out that I am not the only one, although my mother once told me that she also has it. Now that I have read a few forums I conclude the following. The condition is called "aquagenic pruritus" (not "pruritis"). There are many suggestions but the exact cause remains unknown. A universal cure also remains unfound. Most people get this in episodes of a few weeks except for the unlucky ones who get it all the time. Almost all of us have been trying to find a solution by narrowing down the possibilities by trial and error. Now that we have all found this forum, I suggest we try to do some brainstorming together. I want to start with a summary of possible causes. Please let me know what you think of this summary and please help me make it complete or narrow it down.

- water temperature
- chlorine in water
- fabrics (bed/clothes/towel)
- fabric softener
- soap / shower gel
- sulfates in soap / shower gel
- stress / blood pressure
- air temperature
- air humidity
- climate / season
- drying lower legs last (which I think ppl do normally)
- not drinking enough water
- showering in the morning
- drying with a towel

Let's work together to find the solution!
Avatar universal
Thanks to all of you for posting. My story is similar, started about 2 yrs ago. I just came back from a holiday down south and had little problems there. Someone on another site suggested it might be due to tanning. I may try that, although that idea doesn't thrill me....

I also saw a very qualified dermatologist and also an allergist. Both say this is NOT Aquagenic!!!  

Hads anybody seen a naturopath or other alternative medicine specialist? I am following that up too.
I also tried exercising right before shower, drank plenty of water just before, took an Aleve (anti histamine) and did not use a towel to dry off. Blew dry with hair dryer.  Symptoms in legs did NOT occur today, arms minimal, back not great, not terrible!

Lets keep experimenting and post results. Thanks to all!!

Avatar universal
I've been thinking I was crazy for years. It started when I was about 23 in the Summers only, now I'm 28 and it's happening off and on every couple weeks, no matter the Season. I live in Florida, but have experienced the problem while taking showers in the morning at different houses and while in different states. Recently the itching has started before the shower, especially on the weekends when I wait awhile to shower. I also notice it after I finish my workout and my legs are still sweaty. It's always mostly been on my legs, but again as things have been getting worse the itchy, tingly, warm sensation is all over my body. At night I don't itch, but get a mild case of restless leg when I'm tired. These are some of the things I've considered could be the cause:
-circulation problems
-fragrances/dyes/chemicals in detergents and soaps
-migraines (I get them and have had problems with different times of day/sleep patterns; could be related)
Things that provide relief are benadryl and for some reason putting my clothes on immediately after showering. Lotions don't seem to do much and I've tried Eucerin and so on. Hopefully all of our experiences will lead to a better understanding.
Avatar universal
I can't believe my eyes...people out there with the SAME problem as me!  I thought I was nuts!  Or at least that's how my doctors have made me feel.  I've been suffering from itchy legs and arms since I was 7 years old and have been told everything under the sun from only showering with cold water, using eucerin lotion, using dove soap, taking antihistamines, etc. etc.  I still feel there's got to be an underlying cause for this problem.  I agree that there probably are many factors at play, such as temperature of the water you shower in, type of soap, and other allergins, however, there must be a better answer than our doctors just telling us to take a daily allergy medicine!  I am like all of you, I am frustrated and am tired of this condition affecting my quality of life - and just hoping and praying that someone out there can help!
Avatar universal
I worked for a very savy poolguy who said the Ph level in the water is what causes itchy
conitions and that water from the tap is never Ph correct for the body without conditioning.Some water is worse than others.Get a test kit from pool supply store to check your water.Chlorine also affects Ph, and too much chlorine can also cause itch.
Avatar universal
Very good to read all of your posts as this problem has been driving me crazy for the past couple of years. Ive tried a few things from using the hairdryer on my legs to showering as close to leaving the house as possible as getting out and walking seems to calm it down.
One thing I do know is that it only happens after a shower at my house. When im at friends houses or hotels it seems fine, so to me this suggests the problem is definitely to do with the water!!
Avatar universal
I have had this for about 17 years now (I'm 56).  There is a group over in Yahoo with several hundred of us discussing this problem, if you want to join us.  Most of us have found that finishing the shower with VERY HOT water is better than finishing with cold water - just the opposite of what the doctors say. Also, most of us shower at night since showering in the morning is much worse.
I have noticed that for me, ANY water contact is bad - I have tried Ocean water, well water, city water from many cities all over the world. So it is not chlorine related for me. Even sweating or getting caught in the rain (or high humidity) is just as bad. If I can stay tanned, the itch is less and I can actually spend some time in pools or ocean - but once the tan is gone the itch is horrible.
Avatar universal
ive had this problems for about 1 and half year only on the lower half of my legs below the nees. i tend to have very hot showers for 25 mins a day 5 times in a week in the afternoon. this problems slowly increased since having more showers, and the skin being very dry. wot i hav discoverd is after the shower if stay out of my clothes it very itcy also if stay in cold envionment it also itchy. but stand near a the heater for 10 minutes the itch dissapears. i hope it will help  good luck
Avatar universal
So here goes: I've aguagenic prutitus since 2000, the same time that I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and a B12 deficiency.
Since then water, even rain and sweating set this itch off.

I found the following to help:

I use a cream from South Africa called Epizone E and rub my whole body before I shower. It acts as a water barrier and foams a little when in contact with water and so it cleans at the same time.

I use two towels. One to get most of the oily substance off my skin
( don't rub, pat) and the second to pat myself dry.
Then I immediatley use a good skin lotion , more fatty than water, get dressed asap as it helps if the skin is enclosed.

I cut showering down to 2x a week. Eek!! The rest of the time I simply wash the nec. parts. It really helps a lot.
The whole secret is too avoid what irritates the skin: water

Unfortunately the suppliers of Epizone E are not exporting to other countries so I have friends who send it over or I pick it up when I visit there.
This cream can also be put in the bath( doesn't work for me) and is prescribed by dermatologists in South Africa for patients with other skin disorders.

Van Dyk Pharmaceutical Products Ltd.
PO Box 291209
Mellville 2109
South Africa

Tel.: ++27  11 477 5363/7

Fax: ++27  11  477 5705

Email: ***@****

website: xeroderm.co.za

I wonder if we all write to this company if we cannot get them to consider exporting?

By the way keep dancing and singing..this helps too!


Avatar universal
Does anyone here have a rash which goes along with the itching? When I get out of the shower, or if I'm sweaty, I have big red patches on my legs and smaller round patches on my arms and occasionally shoulders too. They itch like crazy for around 30 mins. Antihistamines are taking the edge off a little but the rash is still there. And why would i suddenly get this in the last two months when it's never bothered me before?
Top General Health Answerers
363281 tn?1518219421
Nelson, New Zealand
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
19694731 tn?1482853437
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
In this unique and fascinating report from Missouri Medicine, world-renowned expert Dr. Raymond Moody examines what really happens when we almost die.
Think a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss? Here are five warning signs to watch for.
When it comes to your health, timing is everything
We’ve got a crash course on metabolism basics.
Learn what you can do to avoid ski injury and other common winter sports injury.
Here are the pros and cons of the top fad diets and weight loss plans of the year.