What is a leg rash?

A leg rash is an inflammatory reaction of the skin on the legs that may extend to the feet. Leg rashes can be caused by a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Leg rashes can affect a small to large area of one or both legs and can occur in all age groups and populations.

Leg rashes vary greatly in appearance, extent and severity depending on the underlying cause. Leg rashes may or may not be itchy and can be red, white, purple or silver in color. The texture of a leg rash can be flat, raised, bumpy or scaly and include flaking off or peeling of skin cells. Leg rashes can also appear as dots or spots or occur over a large, solid continuous area.

A leg rash can be a sign of a relatively minor condition, such as irritant contact dermatitis caused by exposure to an irritating substance. A rash on the legs can also be caused by an allergic reaction to a variety of allergens (allergic contact dermatitis).

Other causes of leg rashes include viral infections, autoimmune disorders, and varicose veins. Leg and foot rashes are also a complication of poorly managed diabetes and peripheral artery disease, which can cause skin changes due to poor blood flow to the extremities.

Leg rashes can have several serious causes. A rash of purple spots on the legs or other areas can indicate a potentially serious condition, such as allergic purpura.  Any rash that is associated with allergies combined with shortness of breath, wheezing, or swelling of the face, mouth or throat is a symptom of a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these symptoms.

Seek prompt medical care

if you do not have life-threatening symptoms but your leg rash is getting worse, does not improve within a few days, or you develop other symptoms.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a leg rash?

A leg rash can occur by itself or with other symptoms that affect the skin and possibly other areas of the body. Symptoms vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, you may have flu-like symptoms if the leg rash is due to infection or inflammation. Some coexisting symptoms, such ... Read more about leg rashsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a leg rash?

Leg rashes can be caused by a wide variety of diseases and conditions, such as infection, inflammation, allergic reaction, parasite and insect bites, and autoimmune processes. For example, an acute leg rash that appears suddenly may be caused by an allergic reaction or sensitivity to a particular substance, such as poison ivy, hair waxing or shaving, or an insect bite.

A chronic, ... Read more about leg rashcauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 5, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails


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