Calf Skin Changes Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand calf skin changes symptoms, including 8 causes & common questions.

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Contents

  1. 8 Possible Calf Skin Changes Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics
  4. Related Articles

8 Possible Calf Skin Changes Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced calf skin changes. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation)

Nonspecific dermatitis, or contact dermatitis, simply means inflammation of the skin from many different causes.

Most nonspecific dermatitis is caused by skin contact with a substance that provokes a reaction, which could be anything from plants to soap to jewelry to fabrics. Some may be due to an autoimmune condition, where the body's immune system attacks itself.

Risk factors include a family or personal history of allergies, asthma, or other condition which weakens the immune system; or constant contact with metals, plant life, or chemicals.

Symptoms commonly include red, swollen skin rash with itching, blistering, or oozing, which may become painful and infected.

Dermatitis itself is not contagious but can interfere with quality of life. A medical provider can help with managing the symptoms.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and sometimes skin biopsy and patch testing.

Treatment involves using protective measures if the substances cannot be avoided; making nutritional improvements to strengthen the immune system; using corticosteroid or other creams; and phototherapy.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: red rash, itchy rash, painful rash

Symptoms that always occur with non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation): red rash

Urgency: Self-treatment

Non-specific skin rash

Common causes of rash are contact dermatitis, sun damage, or allergic reaction. However, many rashes are a symptom of disease and should not be ignored.

Nonspecific rashes have widely varied symptoms:

  • May be flat and smooth; slightly raised or with swollen welts; clean and dry; or blistered and oozing.

May spread widely over the body, or be confined to one site.

  • May appear after eating certain foods; or after exposure to certain plants or to insect stings or bites.

Other symptoms may be present, including pain anywhere in the body; nausea; vomiting; fever; headache; or abdominal pain and upset.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination to determine the exact type, location, and history of the rash, along with any other symptoms that may be present.

Those symptoms will be investigated with blood tests or imaging. Skin swabs may be taken and tested. After the process has ruled out as many causes as possible, a course of treatment can be determined.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: rash

Symptoms that always occur with non-specific skin rash: rash

Urgency: Wait and watch

Psoriasis

Psoriasis causes an overgrowth of surface skin cells, creating a red, scaly, itchy, and painful rash.

It is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own healthy skin cells. It may be genetic in origin but triggered by anything that further strains the immune system, such as infections, skin injury, alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, and stress.

Symptoms may come and go in cycles lasting weeks or months. They include red patches of thickened skin, sometimes with gray-white scales; dry, cracked, bleeding skin; stiff and swollen joints; and thickened, misshapen nails.

It is important to see a medical provider for care, because psoriasis can interfere with quality of life. It is associated with higher risk of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

Treatment involves different combinations of topical medications, oral medications, and phototherapy with natural or artificial light. Lifestyle changes such as improved diet, quitting smoking, and managing stress are very helpful in many cases.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, rash with well-defined border, painful rash, scaly rash

Symptoms that never occur with psoriasis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Pityriasis rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash and is thought to be due to a type of herpes virus. It is not contagious and is not sexually transmitted. Most susceptible are teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms include a single large scaly patch somewhere on the body. In the next 7 to 14 days similar oval pink patches on the arms, legs, and trunk appear, sometimes in a pattern of lines.

There may also be itching, fatigue, and body aches along with the rash. Anything that raises body temperature, such as exercising or a hot bath, may worsen the rash.

The condition may last for a few weeks and is normally gone after three to four months. Sometimes flat brown spots are left as the rash fades.

Pityriasis rosea can resemble other conditions, so getting an accurate diagnosis is important. Diagnosis is made through blood tests and skin cultures.

Treatment involves topical medications for itching, as well as antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications by mouth to aid healing. Cool baths and reduced exercise will also help.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: rash, itchy rash, curved rash, rough patch with red spots around it

Symptoms that always occur with pityriasis rosea: rash

Symptoms that never occur with pityriasis rosea: blue-colored skin changes, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes

Urgency: Self-treatment

Calf Skin Changes Symptom Checker

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Benign skin growth

Benign skin growths are very common and virtually everyone has some form of them. "Benign" means the growth is not cancerous and not harmful. Some of these growths have genetic origins, and for some the cause is not clear.

Common types are:

  • Birthmarks – may appear as flat "stains" in the skin or as raised clusters formed of tiny blood vessels.
  • Moles – small irregularities that originate in the pigment-producing cells in the skin. They can be almost any shape or color but are normally no larger than one-quarter of an inch across.
  • Skin tags – little irregular flaps of skin, like a flattened mole attached on only one side.
  • Keloids – a dark, fibrous form of scar tissue that forms after a skin wound, either from trauma or from surgery.

As a person ages, more changes may appear in the skin. Most are benign, but any unusual or suspicious skin growth should be checked by a medical provider. The growth can be removed if it is unsightly, interferes with clothing, or proves to be malignant (cancerous.)

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: constant skin changes, itchy rash, rash with well-defined border, abdominal skin changes, neck skin changes

Symptoms that always occur with benign skin growth: constant skin changes

Symptoms that never occur with benign skin growth: cherry red lower leg bump

Urgency: Wait and watch

Peripheral arterial disease (pad)

Peripheral artery disease is also called PAD, intermittent claudication, or vascular disease. The large main artery from the heart is the aorta, and its smaller branches are the peripheral arteries.

In PAD these peripheral arteries are blocked with plaque, which is debris that builds up in the lining of these arteries and eventually cuts off the blood flow.

Risk factors for PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

PAD usually involves arteries that lead to the legs, but can affect any artery. Symptoms include numbness and pain in the legs, especially with exercise when more circulation is needed but the flow is blocked.

It is important to seek treatment for these symptoms. PAD can lead to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and infection as well as to gangrene, a life-threatening medical emergency.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, blood tests, and sometimes a treadmill test, MRI, and arteriogram.

Treatment involves medication and surgery to open or bypass blocked arteries, and lifestyle changes regarding diet, exercise, and smoking cessation.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: leg numbness, spontaneous foot pain, decreased exercise tolerance, cold feet, thigh pain

Symptoms that never occur with peripheral arterial disease (pad): calf pain from an injury, thigh pain from an injury

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult-onset diabetes, because it is the result of lifestyle and is not hereditary. Diabetes of any type is the condition where the body does not produce enough insulin to process the sugars in food.

Risk factors include obesity, overeating high-carbohydrate foods, lack of exercise, pregnancy, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS.)

Early symptoms include increased thirst; frequent urination; weight loss despite increased appetite; blurred vision; infections that are slow to heal; and blood sugar somewhat higher than normal.

It is important to get treatment at the first sign of these symptoms, because the high blood sugar levels can cause serious organ damage. Heart disease, neuropathy, kidney damage, and blindness can all result from untreated diabetes.

Diagnosis is made through a series of blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed through lifestyle changes. A diet which eliminates refined carbohydrates and controls calories; regular exercise; regular blood sugar monitoring; and sometimes insulin or other medications will all be recommended.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, increased appetite compared to normal, vision changes, feeling itchy or tingling all over, excesive thirst

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Calf Skin Changes

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • What color is the skin change?
  • Is your rash raised or rough when you run your hand over the area of skin?
  • Are there bumps on your rash?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your calf skin changes. These questions are also covered.

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Calf Skin Changes Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced calf skin changes have also experienced:

  • 9% Calf Lump
  • 6% Calf Pain
  • 5% Pain In One Calf

People who have experienced calf skin changes were most often matched with:

  • 75% Psoriasis
  • 25% Non-Specific Dermatitis (Skin Inflammation)

People who have experienced calf skin changes had symptoms persist for:

  • 29% Over a month
  • 27% Less than a week
  • 25% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Calf Skin Changes Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your calf skin changes