Itchiness anywhere on the body is called as “pruritus.” Getting itchy anywhere is quite disturbing, irritating and a nuisance especially when you are at work, you are sleeping or even when you are doing nothing. When you get itchy, you really cannot stop yourself from scratching the area until it gets sore or even starts to bleed.
What Causes Itchy Ankles?
Feeling itchy on your ankles can be due to a variety of causes. It may be due to just environmental allergens, due to fabrics, dry skin or it may indicate some underlying condition like liver problem, diabetes or psoriasis. Let us know more about this in detail.
Itchiness can be due to your skin coming in contact with a fabric you are allergic to, like woolen sock, soaps, perfumes or leather. It may be also due to tight footwear. Red rash develop on the skin when coming in contact with the irritant and other symptoms may include hives, swelling, blisters and ulcers.
Hives or urticaria is most common type of rash that causes itchy ankles due to allergic reaction to certain foods, medicines and other irritants. Main symptoms of hives are itchy, raised, red swollen welts on the affected area of skin.
Dry skin around the ankles can cause the skin to itch. Some skin care products and climatic conditions make skin around ankles dry and crack. Dry skin may indicate underlying condition such as psoriasis or eczema. Dry skin symptoms include scaly, crack, flaky skin along with discoloration.
Overexposure to radiation of sun causes skin burn. Skin become red and painful, being exposed to the sun can also cause itchy and painful skin on the body and ankles. Skin blisters may be formed due to sunburn and it may blast and get infected that result in further itching.
Wearing socks all day long, warmer weather can cause sweating and will lead to itching on the ankles. Wearing tight clothing also causes itching due to less ventilation for the skin.
Skin Products Allergy
Use of any new skin products like soaps, moisturizers may trigger allergic reaction causing itchy skin and ankles.
Psoriasis is a condition where your immune system overreacts and produces excessive skin cells that cause inflammation. Build up of skin cells become very itchy, red and scaly.
Eczema is another skin condition where skin becomes itchy, dry and red. Itching may start anywhere, the wrists, ankles, hands and feet.
Mosquitoes or any other insect bite such as bug bite around the ankles can cause itchy skin. Insect bite results in bump with pain, itchiness, swelling or burning sensation.
Itchy ankles in persons with diabetes may indicate there is poor circulation of blood in the feet. Proper management of diabetes, regular intake of diabetic medications to regulate the blood sugar levels is very important to prevent long-term health problems. Regular checkup with the podiatrist is very important to prevent infections of feet or gangrene. If your ankles start to itch a lot, it is important to visit your healthcare provider to get it treated.
Infection of your foot by parasites like fleas, worms can cause itchiness, redness, rashes and blisters. Ankles are in regular contact with ground, so there is high chance of infection of ectoparasites such as lice, bedbugs and fleas.
It is a fungal infection of the foot that causes itching in your toes and ankles. It may happen when wearing tight footwear and socks which may lead to excessive sweating, moistness in the area that causes fungal infection.
Itchy ankles can also mean you might be having a diseased liver. Liver releases a substance called bilirubin in blood when it is damaged or diseased and the raised levels of bilirubin causes itchy ankles.
When Do I Visit My Doctor For Itchy Ankles?
- After following above remedies to relieve the itchy ankles if one fail to get relief from the itchiness, you might need to visit your healthcare provider to know more about why the itching is not ceasing and whether there is any underlying condition that is causing the itchiness.
- Treating the underlying condition will help treat the itching. Underlying condition may be any infection, skin diseases (psoriasis, eczema), liver disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease and a host of other medical problems.
- Your healthcare provider may use phototherapy (light therapy) where the affected skin is exposed to certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Phototherapy is very effective in healing of the affected area and in reducing the itching sensation.
How Do I Prevent and Treat Itchy Ankles?
- Avoid contact with allergens like wool, nylon or any fabric that triggers itching
- Avoid drying of your skin, as dryness causes itching. Moisturize your skin with moisturizers like calamine lotion or any other moisturizer about 2 to 3 times a day. Moisturize immediately after bathing as skin becomes pretty dry after bathing
- Applying cool compresses helps soothe the skin and reduces itchiness
- Eating a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables and less of fat and fried food helps your body and skin get proper hydration and reduces itching due to dehydrated skin
- Aloe vera gel helps soothe the skin and reduce the itchiness.
- Doctor may prescribe antifungal cream for fungal infections
- Corticosteroids or antihistamines for treating allergic reaction
- Use anti-itch cream for treating general itchiness
- Antibacterial solution can be used to treat bacterial infection
Can Itchiness Be A Sign Of Liver Problems?
- When liver is diseased or damaged like in cirrhosis of liver or hepatitis infections, initially there are no symptoms at all except feeling of itchiness in your ankles and feet.
- One of the first symptoms of primary biliary cirrhosis (chronic disease of liver due to damage to the bile duct) is intense itching and feeling of tiredness.
- If you are having both of these symptoms, then seek immediate attention through your healthcare provider to find out whether your liver is having any problem, since it may be in its early stages, effective treatment at this stage proves to be beneficial.
Itching anywhere in the body is a nuisance and it distracts us from whatever we are doing and embarrasses us during social situations. Itching in the area of ankles is more irritating as we are not able to scratch the area and we have to control the urge of scratching (although itchy areas should not be scratched as the skin might break down causing bleeding) until we reach home due to the socks and footwear we wear all day long at work. If even after avoiding the allergens and using the remedies like cold compresses and topical creams, itchiness does not go away, visit your healthcare provider to know more about the cause of your itchy ankles and get it treated.
What Can Cause Rash On Your Ankles?
- Rash on ankles occurs due to inflammatory reaction of the skin on your ankles
- The inflammatory reaction is triggered due to any insect bite, allergic reaction, infection or any autoimmune condition
- The rash may occur on one or both ankles depending on the cause. If it is due to insect bite, it may occur on only one ankle where the insect has bitten
- The rash may occur on both ankles if it is due to an allergic reaction or if it is due to eczema or any other skin condition
- Ankle rash also occurs in people who sweat more and wear tight clothing which causes the skin to get less ventilation in the area leading to inflammation and rash. Rashes on the ankle may originate further up the leg also.
Ankle rash may be acute (sudden onset) due to insect bites or allergic reaction. It may be chronic (longer duration) due to infection like cellulitis, due to liver disease, psoriasis or eczema. The shape and size of ankle rash may also vary depending upon the cause. It may be small, patchy, large, raised, flaky and scaly. The rash may be itchy or non-itchy. Rashes may be bright red, brown or dark purple in color.
What Are The Non-Infectious Causes Of Ankle Rash?
Ankle rash may occur due to allergies like
- Contact dermatitis
Ankle rash may be due to autoimmune causes
- Psoriasis – red scaly rash
- Lichen planus – irregularly shaped pink or purplish colored rash
- Skin cancer – irregular red patches, scaly lumps.
What Are The Infectious Causes Of Ankle Rash?
- Cellulitis, a bacterial infection causes red colored rash on the ankles
- Folliculitis, infection of hair follicles also causes red colored rash
- Viral infection like measles, shingles causes rash on the ankle and other body parts.
Rash appears as a first sign during infections. Along with rash there may be fever, pain and other symptoms.
What Are The Other Causes Of Ankle Rash?
- Varicose veins
- Insect bites
What Are The Symptoms Of Ankle Rash?
Ankle rash may cause itching, burning pain, redness, swelling, dry skin. The rash may extend up to the feet and legs. Ankle rash accompanied by the following symptoms indicates, it is not just a local reaction but due to some systemic cause such as
When Do I Need To Visit My Doctor For Ankle Rash?
- If the ankle rash is due to some local causes like insect bite or if it is due to allergic reaction to woolen clothing or tight shoes, it may disappear after a few days or by application of topical cream or ointments or lotion.
- If the ankle rash is accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, pain, body ache, loss of appetite, lightheadedness, it may indicate some serious underlying medical problem which will require immediate attention by the healthcare provider.
- Seek immediate checkup by your healthcare provider and get the underlying condition diagnosed and treated.
Treatment of Ankle Rash
Underlying condition should be treated to effectively control the recurrence of rash. Topical treatment of rash without treating the root cause may result in recurrence of rash. Restrain from rubbing or scratching the rash as it may spread to the other parts or may damage or infect the skin.
- Vitamin E and Vitamin A oils are effecting in treating the rash
- Tea tree oil has antimicrobial agents that treat bacterial or fungal infections
- Aloe vera gel and turmeric mixture treat the rash by giving soothing and healing effect
- Doctor may prescribe medication to treat rash such as antihistamines or corticosteroids, antibacterial or antifungal topical solutions.