Itchy Ankles

Itchy Ankles (Pruritus)

The itchiness in the ankles is medically referred to as “pruritus”. In a general sense, itching is the most common sign indicating that a person has a dermatological or skin disorder. It may also be a primary indication of an internal systemic disorder such as disorders of the blood, diabetes mellitus and worse, cancer. Our bodies’ itch receptors are exclusively found in the confines of the skin, cornea and mucous membranes.

Scratch Itch Cycle

Moreover, itchiness in the ankle is more often than not accompanied by a resulting rash or skin lesion due to the scratch-itch cycle that the person affected does. Meaning, if the person feels itchiness, he/she scratches the affected area to relieve it and the cycle goes on and on and on. However, itchiness is not always limited to rashes and skin lesions; there are actually instances that rashes and lesions do not present because of the pruritus’ rapid onset. This kind of pruritus is medically referred to as “essential pruritus”. It may be severe and can highly interfere with the activities of daily living.

What causes itchy ankles?

What are the possible predisposing and contributing factors leading to the occurrence of it? Itchy ankles may affect all age groups, may it be the infants, adults and the ones in their old age. And to put it broadly, the causes of itchy ankles may be categorized into 1.) Extrinsic factors and 2.) Underlying medical conditions.

The extrinsic factors that may contribute to the development of itchiness in the ankles are as follows, but not limited to:

  • The first contributing factor would be the region or the place where the individual lives in. Generally, Asian people are not much affected by itchy ankles as western individuals are. More often than not, Asian people are more resistant to developing itchy ankles that are caused by natural factors such as dust.
  • Secondly, the material used in the footwear or socks of the individual also contributes to the development of itchy ankles. As we all know, these footwears and socks are the primary things that mostly comes in contact with the person’s ankle skin. Materials such as wool have a high probability of irritating the skin, thereby causing itchiness or pruritus. Moreover, ill-fitting socks or the ones that are too tight and too constricting on the ankle’s skin can also cause pruritus, even if it is not wool.
  • Another common cause of itchy ankles would be the infamous insect bites such as the bites of bed bugs and mites. Hiking and exposing one’s ankles in places where insects most probably live in, increases the risk of an individual having itchiness to the ankles.
  • In addition to that, band-aids, bandages and other adhesive materials that may have been in contact with the ankle’s skin for an extended amount of time may also contribute to itchiness in the area.
  • Also, extreme temperature such as too much heat (heat rashes) can also greatly influence to the development of itchy ankles.
  • Lastly, cleansing products that contain sulfates may also contribute to the development of itchiness in the ankles. Moreover, soap products, lotions and creams can also be a contributing factor.

Aside from the above-mentioned extrinsic factors, there are also a number of medical conditions that may precede the development of itchiness in the ankles.

Medical Conditions that cause Itchy Ankles

These medical conditions are as follows, but not limited to:

  • One medical condition that may contribute to itchy ankles would be excessive drying of the skin. Excessive drying of the skin may be due to the constant use of harsh soap. These harsh soaps, if used constantly may strip the ankle’s skin of its natural lubricating oils. In turn, excessive drying occurs, consequently resulting to the feeling of itchiness in the ankles.
  • In addition, poor circulation to the lower extremities may also be the culprit to experiencing itchy ankles.
  • Another contributing factor may be attributed to the itch-scratch cycle. Meaning, when an individual detects a feeling of itchiness, the usual reaction would be to scratch it. However, scratching may lead to the release of more histamine, causing further itching; which ultimately results to the worsening of itchy ankles. This condition is medically referred to as “neurodermatitis”.
  • Lastly, xerotic eczema, contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, obstructive biliary disease, chronic renal failure, malignancies, Chron’s disease, Athlete’s foot and cholinergic urticaria are the most common medical conditions that cause the sensation of itchiness in the ankles.

Itchy ankles, if not treated properly and in a timely fashion may result to a more severe and alarming condition. Therefore, it is important to know the ways to treat it. Although, to seek medical attention would be the safest and surest way to have the most appropriate treatment (as it varies from person to person), it is still essential to be knowledgeable about its treatment in cases of emergency and a doctor’s care is not possible at the time.

So below are most, if not all, of the ways to treat itchiness of the ankles.

Itchy Ankle Cures and Treatment

The first way to prevent or treat itchiness in the ankles would be to avoid its causes such as avoiding places where insects live, minimizing the use of harsh soaps, avoiding the use of ill fitting socks and wool materials.

  • Another mode of treatment would be the ever-trusty cold compress. By applying cold compress to the affected area, you can prevent the occurrence of itchiness, thereby preventing scratching. The cold pack may be applied to the area for 20 minutes, tops, as needed. Of course, extreme caution should be taken so as not to inflict more harm to the skin.
  • Another common way of relieving itchiness of the ankles would be to apply calamine lotion to the affected area. It is readily available in most pharmacies. It may be applied twice daily or as needed.
  • There is also a mixture that has been helpful in treating itchy ankles. And that would be the mixture of ginger juice and oats. Usually, the mixture is paste-like in nature and is combined uncooked in a blender. It is usually applied as soon as the itchiness is felt and then consequently applied to the affected area twice daily.
  • Lastly, applying moisturizing lotion with menthol is an effective way of treating itchy ankles. It soothes the skin and prevents drying as well as itching of the ankle’s skin.

Published by under Skin, Hair And Nails.
Article was last reviewed on November 5th, 2016.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Janet Greene says:

    I have sudden onset of painful itching of the inside of both ankles upon lying down at night ir naps beginning aproximately 4 plus months ago. (HISTORY: 58 YOWF with diabetes, hypothyroidism & high cholesterol/triglycerides and take levothyroxin, simvastatin, metformin and 3 opioid meds & 6 Advil qd for chronic back pain. I have had 16 surgeries (4 of spine) including breast cancer and widespread fibromyalgia. I have right tennis elbow with severe pain limiting the use of my right arm. I have a right ear fungal infection with complete right side hearing loss being treated by my ENT doctor. I have normal weight of 117 lbs & height of 5’3″.) Sometimes just the right ankle itches, sometimes just the left and sometimes both begin at the exact same time. It is a circular area on the inside of my ankles about 2 inches in diameter. I do not scratch them. The area is puffy, like edema. It is not red or bumpy. No rash or discoloration. My family doctor does not know what it is related to. I have read it could be related to diabetic neuropathy and also heart disease being vascular in nature. I am not sure what kind of specialist to see to get this correctly diagnosed and treated, or at least understand the origin in case there are some vitamins in which I am deficient. Thank you for your input. Considering all the other health problems I suffer with on a daily basis and the 18 meds I take on a daily basis, it doesn’t seem serious, but it is very irritating and seems to cause more spasms in my back just dealing with the painful itching.

    • Freespirit says:

      As a NUTRITIONAL CONSULTANT, my advice is for you to find a GOOD Nutritional practitioner/advisor.Your PROBLEM appears to be SERIOUS Nutritional DEFICIENCIES

  2. Girish K Deshpande says:

    Article is useful and directional. Though ginger is available globally, oat is not. so, is there any alternative to oat in the ginger-oat preparation given above? please reply. I’m myself affected with ankle itch. it is terrible and is not controlled easily. it is chronic. please suggest something more, if needed.
    thanks!

  3. Hayley says:

    I have coeliac like symptoms that are actually tied to autism. Through my diet I discovered I had aspergers. However I’ve recently had itchy ankles and it’s set off by paprika. It’s super weird and I have no idea why but people shouldn’t rule out food types. I basically got the recipe I was using and took out one ingredient per time until the itching vanished. Paprika was the culprit.

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