Upper Leg Itch Symptoms
An itch is an uncomfortable sensation on the skin that causes the urge to scratch. It is likely that itching can become bothersome enough that it can interfere with your focus at school or work, or even disrupt your sleep. There are several different causes of an upper leg itch (that can extend beyond simple skin dryness), and if it worsens or persists, you should seek care from a medical provider.
An itching sensation in the upper leg can be associated with various conditions and symptoms including:
- Blisters or bumps
- Changes in skin texture: Can become scaly, leathery, papery
However, sometimes an upper leg itch may not be associated with any visible skin changes. In this case, it is important to take note of other symptoms associated with your upper leg itch such as:
- Timing Does the itch happen during a specific time in the day? After certain activities? Etc.
- Laterality Does the itchy sensation occur in one leg (unilateral) or both (bilateral)?
- Acuity Is this the first time the sensation has occurred? Or have you experienced upper leg itch before?
Scratching is also an important symptom of upper leg itch. Though scratching can be helpful in relieving an itchy sensation, it only offers temporary relief. Scratching can also result in breaks in the skin that can lead to bleeding or infection, further exacerbating the issue.
Although conditions associated with upper leg itch are not usually serious or life-threatening, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor in order to get appropriate, long-lasting care and prevent complications.
Upper Leg Itch Causes
An itch, also known as pruritus, occurs as a result of irritation or stimulation of cells and receptors on the skin particularly those related to nerves. Stimulation of these nerve cells and the itching that results can be caused by multiple conditions that can be grouped in the following categories [1,2]:
Many skin conditions such as eczema, hives, psoriasis and a variety of other illnesses that specifically affect the skin and its layers can result in itchiness of the lower extremities. Often, such conditions are also associated with symptoms such as redness, blisters or flaking. On the other hand, skin that is simply dry due to old age or temperature changes can also result in itchy skin.
Itching in the upper legs may be a sign of an underlying systemic condition. There are many illnesses that can also cause itching and they can be grouped into the following categories :
Metabolic Conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease that affect the metabolic homeostasis of the body can result in itching of the upper leg as well as other parts of the body. In addition liver disease and late stage kidney disease can also cause itching.
- Hematologic Blood conditions such as anemia and leukemia can cause itching in addition to symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss.
- Neurologic Conditions that affect the nervous system such as shingles, diabetes and multiple sclerosis can also result in itching of the lower extremities and other parts of the body.
Environmental causes of an upper leg itch can be related to lifestyle habits or certain exposures.
Allergens The skin works primarily as a protective barrier and is very sensitive to environmental factors that cause irritation or allergic reactions. Allergens can include drugs, topical treatments such as soaps or lotions, certain fabrics or metals, plants, foods and a variety of other substances. Itching that results acts as a warning or deterrent from using these irritants.
Insect bites A bite from any insect mosquito, spider, flea, etc. can easily stimulate the nerve cells on the skin that results in itchiness.
- Stress Some people scratch when they are stressed, or scratch their skin as a habit in certain neurologic or psychiatric conditions.
8 Possible Upper Leg Itch Conditions
The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced upper leg itch. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Allergic contact dermatitis of the thigh
Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.
Top Symptoms: upper leg itch, upper leg redness, scabbed area of the upper leg
Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the thigh: upper leg redness
Restless legs syndrome (rls)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a chronic condition characterized by uncomfortable sensations while lying down and a strong urge to move the legs. Leg movement relieves the unpleasant sensations temporarily, often resulting in poor quality sleep. RLS is common, affecting up to one in 10 people in the U.S..
Symptoms primarily include an uncontrollable urge to move the legs and sometimes the arms while at rest. The sensations experienced can be described in a variety of ways, but are mainly uncomfortable.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your RLS and will likely continue for the rest of your life. Certain lifestyle adjustments, medications, and supplements may help to alleviate symptoms.
Top Symptoms: daytime sleepiness, trouble sleeping, tingling lower leg, restless legs, difficulty falling asleep
Urgency: Primary care doctor
A dermatofibroma is a common skin growth that usually appears on the(https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/lower-leg-bump/), but may appear anywhere on the body. These growths are benign (noncancerous). Dermatofibromas are most common in adults and are rarely found in children.
Symptoms include a hard, raised growth that is red,(https://www.buoyhealth.com/symptoms-a-z/light-red-or-pink-bump-skin/), or brown and less than half an inch across. They are usually painless but may be tender or itchy, and may appear alone or in groups.
The diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes biopsy. A dermatofibroma does not require treatment unless it is interfering with clothing or is unsightly. They can be surgically removed, though this will leave a scar and the growth may eventually return.
Any new growth on the skin should be seen by a medical provider, especially if the growth is very dark in color or changes its shape or appearance quickly.
Top Symptoms: small facial lump, pink or red facial bump, face itch, skin-colored facial bump, painful facial bump
Urgency: Wait and watch
Insect bite from a chigger
Chiggers are mites that feed on humans and animals only while they are larvae, or their infant form. People can contract chiggers when they contact infected grass. Chiggers feed for three to four days on a piece of skin, and secrete a fluid that causes intense itching.
Top Symptoms: lower leg itch, lower leg redness, knee itch, ankle itch, ankle redness
Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit
Non-specific insect bite
Insect bites are very common. The saliva given off during the bit can sometimes cause dangerous allergic reactions that affect your ability to breathe. However, the vast majority of insect bites have no adverse effects besides the inflammation where the bite occurred.
Mosquito bites are bites from flying insects that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. Mosquito bites are more common during the summer or in warmer climates, at dawn or dusk, and near bodies of water.
In most cases, mosquito bites will cause a local skin reaction that gets better on its own over days or weeks. Less commonly, children may develop recurrent itchy bumps called papular urticaria. In rare cases, some people may develop severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. In addition, mosquitoes may carry viruses that cause encephalitis, Chikungunya Fever, and Zika virus.
The diagnosis is made by history and exam. Treatment options include washing the bite and using ice or cold packs or topical medications to relieve itching. More severe reactions may require oral allergy medications or epinephrine injection.
Top Symptoms: mosquito bite
Symptoms that always occur with mosquito bite: mosquito bite
Symptoms that never occur with mosquito bite: fever, muscle aches, vomiting, loss of appetite
Normal episode of itchy skin
Itchy skin is also called pruritis. There are a number of "normal" causes for itching, meaning the cause is not disease-related and does not result in seriously damaged skin.
The most common causes are:
- Dry skin, due to bathing in soap or bubble bath that may be too harsh and is stripping the natural oils from the skin.
- Mild allergies, which may be caused by dust; certain plants and flowers; nickel-containing jewelry; and any sort of soap, detergent, lotion, or perfume.
- Pregnancy, due to stretching of skin or to a condition called prurigo. Prurigo causes small, itchy bumps which may be due to an autoimmune system dysfunction during pregnancy.
Menopause, due to hormonal changes that may leave the skin overly dry.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes allergy tests.
Treatment involves bathing only with mild, hypoallergenic soap; regular moisturizing with unscented lotion; wearing soft, loose, non-synthetic clothing; avoiding any substances that seem to provoke the itching; and sometimes prescription medicated creams.
Top Symptoms: feeling itchy or tingling all over
Symptoms that always occur with normal episode of itchy skin: feeling itchy or tingling all over
Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family history of atopic dermatitis, asthma, or hay fever.
Infants will have a dry, scaly, itchy rash on the scalp, forehead, and cheeks. Older children will have the rash in the creases of elbows, knees, and buttocks.
Without treatment, a child may have trouble sleeping due to the intense itching. Constant scratching may cause skin infections.
Eczema cannot be cured, but it can be controlled through prescribed medications, skin care, stress management, and treatment of food allergies. People with eczema often have allergies to milk, nuts, and shellfish. Keeping the skin clean and moisturized helps prevent flares.
Top Symptoms: trouble sleeping, feeling itchy or tingling all over, dry skin, scalp itchiness, flexor surface rash
Symptoms that never occur with eczema (atopic dermatitis): fever
Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit
Upper Leg Itch Treatments and Relief
Many causes of itch in the upper leg can be stopped or prevented with simple lifestyle changes:
- Keep the skin adequately moisturized Using unscented, dermatologically tested lotions and moisturizing cream on the upper leg can prevent skin dryness that can cause itchiness.
- Avoid allergens Take note of symptoms that occur after using or ingesting certain substances and try to avoid them. It may be helpful to get formal allergy testing in order to be prepared and knowledgeable about your allergic triggers.
- Reduce stress Stress can exacerbate itching and scratching. Try stress-relieving strategies such as meditation, yoga or behavioral modification therapy.
If your upper leg itch persists despite the home remedies above, make an appointment with your physician. If your itching is caused by an underlying metabolic, hematologic or neurologic condition, your physician will focus on treating that condition first. If your symptoms are due to another cause, he or she may suggest the following treatments that may help relieve your itchy skin :
- Corticosteroid creams If your itching is due to a rash or skin disorder such as eczema or dermatitis, corticosteroids are helpful given their anti-inflammatory effect in addition to their immunosuppressive role.
- Antihistamines If your itching is due to an allergic reaction, your physician may prescribe medications that fight the immunologic response causing your inflammation and itching.
- Light therapy (phototherapy):** This treatment involves exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light in order to help get the itching sensation under control.
FAQs About Upper Leg Itch
Here are some frequently asked questions about upper leg itch.
Why is the itching only in my upper legs?
The lower extremities are particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and become easily dry and itchy, especially in low humidity conditions. While moisturizing, make sure not to overlook areas that are itchy or seem drier.
Will the itching spread from the upper leg to the rest of my body?
Depending on the specific cause of your upper leg itch, there is a possibility that the itching can spread from the upper leg to the rest of the body. For example, in many systemic diseases, itching may result in multiple extremities. However, in the case of an insect bite, the itching likely will not spread.
Is a rash always associated with an upper leg itch?
No. A rash is often associated with upper leg itch in conditions that cause irritation or specifically affect the skin layers. However, in systemic conditions or conditions related to stress or certain allergens, there is often no rash present.
What are the complications of upper leg itch?
Complications of upper leg itch are usually the result of persistent scratching. Scratching can cause breaks in the skin that lead to infection or other skin injury. Furthermore, scratching can lead to scarring and thickening of the skin.
Is upper leg itching a temporary or chronic condition?
Upper leg itch can be either temporary or chronic depending on the underlying cause. Usually, upper leg itch associated with allergens resolves once the offending agent is discontinued. However, upper leg itch associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes or liver disease can persist especially if adequate treatment is not obtained.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Upper Leg Itch
To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:
- Do you have a rash?
- Is the red area flaky and rough to the touch?
- Did you possibly brush into poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac?
- Did your symptoms start after you were exposed to nickel (commonly found in jean snaps, metal pens, paper clips, cigarettes, etc.)?
The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.
If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions
Take a quiz to find out why you're having upper leg itch
Upper Leg Itch Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced upper leg itch have also experienced:
- 20% Lower Leg Itch
- 5% Knee Itch
- 4% Ankle Itch
People who have experienced upper leg itch were most often matched with:
- 75% Restless Legs Syndrome (Rls)
- 25% Allergic Contact Dermatitis Of The Thigh
People who have experienced upper leg itch had symptoms persist for:
- 30% Over a month
- 25% Less than a week
- 23% Less than a day
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).
- Scientific American. (2018). Why and how do body parts itch? Why does it feel good to scratch an itch? Scientific American. Scientific American Link