Causes of Itchy Ankles Are Almost Too Numerous to Mention
If there is one good thing about itchy ankles, it’s that ankles are easy places to reach to scratch. Scratching an itch usually feels good, but too much itching and too much scratching can lead to problems. It is not always clear why we itch, or why we tend to itch in some places more than others. There is always that place on the back that we can’t reach. If no one is around to scratch an itch that is occurring near the upper middle of the back, and there’s no back scratching device handy, we sometimes find ourselves looking for a tree to rub against, or a sharp corner.
Those things that cause the ankles to itch are for the most part the same things that can cause other parts of the body too itch. For example, itching may result from wearing socks whose top bands fits too tight, but a pair of trousers that fit too tight can cause itching as well, but about the waist, and not the ankles. Also, the ankles will sometimes itch above the sock line and sometimes below, so wearing socks isn’t necessarily a primary cause.
Itching the Tends to Favor Specific Areas
There are several causes of itching that tend to focus more on one part of the body than others, such as the wrists, the elbows, or the ankles. Eczema is a skin condition that, while it can affect any part of the body, tends to affect the ankles or wrists more of the time. No one knows for certain what causes eczema, or what causes it to most often occur as occasional flare ups with long quiescent periods in between. It is known that contributing factors to eczema are dry skin, problems in the immune system, and possibly genetic factors. There are a number of things that can trigger an eczema flare up, including dust and dirt, stress, hot water baths or showers, cigarette smoke, and certain foods.
Any disorder that can cause swelling in the ankles will often cause them to itch as well. Hypothyroidism, heart disease, and kidney disease or renal failure can all cause the ankles to swell, and some times to itch. Peripheral neuropathy is another cause. A peripheral neuropathic condition often accompanies diabetes, and when itching does occur it often occurs at night.
Varicose Veins Can Itch
Varicose veins can be a cause of itchy ankles. While varicose veins can occur anywhere, they most often occur on the legs, feet, or ankles. The simple act of standing upright or walking puts added pressure on the veins that serve the lower parts of the body. Varicose veins tend to occur more often with advancing age, since the veins often begin to lose some of their elasticity and begin to stretch. Also, if the walls of the veins becomes weaker, blood which should be flowing towards the heart, may back flow and form pools, which can cause veins to swell. The same is true for what are called spider veins, which are also varicose veins, except the veins involved are much smaller.
Varicose veins do not always have any associated symptoms. They can however cause pain in the ankles or legs in some cases. They can also cause swelling in the legs, feet, or ankles, and they can also cause the legs, feet, to ankles to itch. Sometimes this itching is felt only in the vicinity of a single vein and sometimes it is felt near most of the veins.
Varicose veins, and itchy ankles, can also result from pregnancy. In this case, the pressure from the pelvis reduces the blood flow to the legs, even though pregnancy generally increases the blood flow in the body. This reduction in blood flow can cause veins in the legs, and/or the ankles, to enlarge. In cases of pregnancies, the varicose veins that are formed often go away a few months following the pregnancy, but can reoccur during later pregnancies.
Heat Rash is Another Common Cause
A more common cause of itching in or around the ankles is heat rash, or prickly heat. Heat rash occurs when perspiration becomes trapped beneath the surface of the skin. Intense itching is usually one of the symptoms. Heat rash can be caused by a number of things, but tight clothing, in this case socks which fit too tightly, is a common one. Bed-ridden patients sometimes suffer heat rash as well. The ankles can become itchy if the bedding is too heavy or too tight. Heat rash, also known as miliaria, is usually easy to treat, and generally involves cooling the affected area and averting perspiration.
There are a few serious disorders that can cause itchy ankles, but unless there are other symptoms in addition to the itching, the cause is most likely not serious, and the main problem to be faces is to relive the irritation. Scratching helps, but it should not be relied upon too heavily, as damage to the skin could result.
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