Itchy Ankles

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Rash on Ankle
Rash on Ankle

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.

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.

22 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

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

    • Avoid animal protein in winter. I could write pages. Basically: protein metabolises to Homocystein which upsets endothelial lining of veins which leak.
      When veins below skin leak the serum aggravates itch response.

    • This is my first ever contribution but your concerns so mimicked mine that my recent experience of itchy and burning ankles and the recent relief gained could be of use to you or others.

      I am 80 years old, still very active, male. For 2 years i have suffered short periods of this and it occasionally defeats sleep when it reaches a burning sensation in both legs and calves. Rubbing etc is a NO-NO, It intermediately worsens the sensations. Creams etc. had no effect.
      My Dr., a heart specialist, admits to no knowledge, though he prescribes mild sedatives to assist in minimising the sensations and aiding sleep.

      HOWEVER…..The relief I mentioned comes from an insistence on a trial with new hosiery. Socks to me but ladies may need to check their chosen alternatives or even consider shoes or footwear generally.
      I am no expert in why these help but had begun to notice additional tightness when donning socks. Also they all felt well fitted and looked excellent an smooth.
      It was becoming more and more noticeable when removing them at night that a minor imprint of the sock was left……
      My wife Marie, was prevailed upon to research these at the usual source and the change has been dramatic.My socks still look fine,stay aloft and leave no visible impression. And…They’re from the same source!
      I will try to include below a pic of my socks. No 1 is the now item with the largest leg band. 2 & 3 are earlier and are being discarded A S A P.
      No recent enlargement of my legs is evident. Maybe the sock manufacturers are gaining elasticity, coarseness or material savings from barely detectable changes but I am grateful that somewhere in these columns unsuitable footwear was mentioned. Comfortable sleep now possible

      Sorry…. No image possible

      Les

    • I have similar symptoms and would focus on the diabetes connection. According to my research, itchy ankles / diabetes (or even heart issues) can become quite serious, so address it immediately. There may be simple steps you can take to stop this. See an internist or a dermatologist. Have you had your A1C number checked recently? Please post again when you find the reason/solution. Good luck.

    • I just started the same rash, itchy painful both ankles, suddenly after an ER visit that was diagnosed as a possible food allergy. Going to my nurse practitioner tomorrow and will follow up.woth an allergist. I am so sorry your going through this also. Do you have any updates?

  2. 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. 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.

  4. I have had an itchy left ankle for 4 years. It started when I went to Key West. The dermoglist said it was nothing. I went last month and told him I still have the problem. He gave me steroid cream and said that will work. No. My ankle still itchs.

  5. I feel for all of you…I also have itchy ankles. It’s been going on for at least a week. It’s only when I go to bed. It’s so annoying!!! I started using a new laundry detergent about 2 weeks ago. I’m going to start there first. Clean the sheets with a different kind of laundry soap. Then hopefully I fixed the problem. Good luck everyone.

  6. Every night for almost a year my right ankle will start itching right at bedtime, I don’t know what to do I’ve tried every suggestions all but talking with doctors I just always thought it was weird going to a doctor and saying hey my ankle has been itching. Please please help me find a way to STOP itching!!

  7. I’m surprised to see that so many have the same very itchy ankles (and feet) that I get
    at night. #1) I really think it has something to do with socks..esp. those with elastic
    tops. Also any that are tight fitting at the ankles.
    #2) I am forced to jump out of bed and slather feet and ankles with lotions..even top
    brands, but always wears off, until I reapply several times a night.
    #3) Lately I tried a salve with Menthol and it stopped the itch fast!!
    Also; another night I used TUCKS which I heard about to rub it on….and
    also tried the WITH HAZEL Astringent rubbed on with a cotton ball.
    #4) I lather sometimes with ALOE VERA salve too.
    My most relief comes from the Menthol and the Tucks, so I hope it works for you too!!!

    • I TOO AM SUFFERING WITH ITCHING ANKLES AND WONDER IF YOU COULD ADVISE ME AS TO WHAT THE BRAND NAME IS FOR THE MENTHOL AND TUCKS RELIEF.

  8. These comments are very interesting. I too have itchy ankles for a few weeks. No rash, nothing. I put tons of Calamine lotion on it and it stops until the next time. Saw a dermatologist a few weeks ago, before this started, just for my 6 month skin CHECKING of precancerous spots which she froze. But she did say, my husband and I have very dry skin. I’m seeing my primary dr. Tomorrow and tell him about this because I’m concerned with this statement that it could be diabetes and other things. He tells me NOT TO GO ON THE INTERNET because I get very nervous when I read anything bad.But my scalp is itchy too. I am one big itch. I will try the menthol lotion and tucks, I don’t even know what Tucks is? I hope everyone finds help because this is so annoying wearing long pants in the summer because the calamine lotion looks awful. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR THE TIPS. GOD BLESS

  9. Last year, I had an itchy on my inside right ankle for months & noticed I also had toenail fungus on one toe.. All the creams & lotions wouldn’t work, except hydrocortisone cream did reduce the itching a little bit. The podiatrist prescribed me Lamisil for the toenail fungus & said it would also effect the itchy spot. Sure enough, it did, it totally stopped itching. However this whole week I had severe ankle itchiness to the point where I had to stop my car & run into Walgreens to get “ITCH-X”. That really works for very fast relief, but at home I found what worked for me tonight was Coconut body cream and Vicks vapor rub! The coconut body cream was just extremely moisturizing, but the eucalyptus oil in the Vicks is known to reduce itching.

  10. I have the itching ankles also. at the onset, with one ankle itch the other will begin itching within a few minutes time. I have to keep hydrocortisone crème in my car because unless it would stop , I would get delirious. I have tried many things but hydrocortisone cream works best good luck.

  11. I’ve been plagued these past few weeks with itchy ankles which I’ve tried to address with various lotions which gave some limited relief. Then I read Les Cattell’s post where he linked the problem to the type of socks he wore. I’m in my 70’s and like Les I’ve become very attached to a type of long smooth fitting elasticated sock! Les reasoned that your socks are in contact with the skin for large parts of the day and therefore might be associated with the problem. He found that switching to another type of sock rectified the itching almost overnight. Encouraged by this I got another type of sock to wear and………..HEY PRESTO the itching subsided during the course of the day. Of course there a lot more serious issues related to itchy ankles which require medical treatment and I wish you all well if you are affected. But I thought I should write in support of Les’s finding’s that the material your socks are made of may have a significant influence on the severity of the problem. If you think you have itchy dry skin with no associated rash or any other issues, then it’s got to worth a try!!
    Mike

  12. I have this complaint tried many remedies been to doctors and truthfully the only way I can prevent the itch is to wear socks that have no elastic in the tops and apply a moisturizer with menthol around my ankles and upto where my socks would go, do this nightly routine even when you think the symptoms have gone. It works for me and I hope it will work for you as I would even scratch in my sleep causing my skin to bleed. Hope this helps and God bless.

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