Itchy ankles refer to any inflammatory skin condition that affects the ankles. The condition can arise due to the underlying presence of many different kinds of minor or major illnesses and conditions. Itchy ankles may occur across just a small part of the ankle or the entire area; it can be persistent or temporary. The irritation can also a part of some severe skin condition that has affected the legs or feet.
The extent and intensity of itchy ankles can vary from one patient to another as per the underlying causes, the exposure, and the severity. In addition to itchiness, the affected skin areas may experience changes in color from reddish, to white, purplish, or silvery; it may elicit skin peeling; and it can either be flat or smooth, or form other skin anomalies like bumps, scales, lesions, or small spots.
Itchy ankles usually tend to occur as an allergic response to contact with varied allergens like pollen or intake of allergic foods; exposure to skin irritants such as poison sumac, poison ivy, etc.; or underlying presence of infections, autoimmune disorders, periphery arterial diseases, etc.
Symptoms of itchy ankles
Itchy ankles can occur as a standalone skin abnormality, or it can occur along with a variety of other symptoms that affect other skin areas and other regions of the body. The signs and symptoms of itchy ankles typically differ according to the causative condition. For instance, itchy ankles arising due to inflammation or infections will usually be accompanied by the occurrence of flu-like symptoms.
Itchy ankles commonly occurs with the below listed signs and symptoms:
- Mild to severe itchiness
- The affected leg/legs or feet may develop rashes due to spread of the germs/inflammation causing itchy ankles.
- The inflamed skin may feel cold when touched
- Aggravation of itchy ankles can cause formation of blisters as well as oozing of fluids
- The texture of affected skin may alter and become scaly, flaky, or dry.
- Affected skin may experience swelling, redness, inflammation, and irritation.
- Adjacent skin areas may swell up and look puffy
- Affected skin areas may develop cracks
- There may be tearing of the skin and subsequent bleeding
- Patients may feel pain or burning sensations
When itchy ankles occur as a symptom of some other disease affecting some other region of the body, then it can be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, headache, body ache, pains, and fatigue.
- The lower legs and feet may elicit numbness
- Infants may become increasingly irritable
- Inexplicable loss in weight
- Formation of sores that take a long time to heal
- Cold nose, ears, and fingers
- Muscle cramps
- Decrease flow of blood to body extremities
- A runny nose as well as sneezing
- Joint pain and swelling
- Ocular redness
- Anxiety, stress, depression, and other psychological anomalies
- Appetite loss
Itchy ankles can occur as a symptom of some severe underlying disorder. It is vital for patients to seek immediate medical attention if the below listed symptoms are seen:
- A pinkish or reddish discharge along with urine.
- Unexpected and sudden swelling of the lips, face, mouth, throat, and tongue
- Wheezing or any kind of respiratory difficulties
- Elevated heart beat
- Pain in the abdomen, tightness in different body areas, or pressure in chest area
- Elevated lethargy, lowered levels of consciousness, or unresponsiveness
- Intense headache
- Vomiting blood
Causes of itchy ankles
Itchy ankles can be caused due to many different causes. A few common causes are categorized below.
Itchy ankles arising from insect bites or parasitic infections:
- Infection by body lice
- Infection by scabies mites
- Bites by fleas or ticks
- Bites by bed bugs or mosquitoes
Itchy ankles caused due to allergic reactions:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Allergic purpura
- Exposure to skin irritants like poison ivy, etc. that results in irritant contact dermatitis
- Adverse response to medicines
- Allergic contact dermatitis caused by exposure to certain perfumed body lotions or other such allergens
Itchy ankles caused by life-threatening reactions:
- Anaphylaxis, a near fatal allergic reaction
- Erythema multiforme, another type of allergic reaction
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis, a deadly reaction to drugs characterized by loss of mucous membranes and skin
Itchy ankles caused by underlying inflammatory or autoimmune diseases:
- Vasculitis and other such inflammatory conditions affecting blood vessels
- Cutaneous lupus, an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin
- Erythema nodosum, an inflammatory disorder
- Discoid eczema that causes dry skin
Itchy ankles arising from infections:
- Roseala rash, a type of viral infection
- Folliculitis, i.e. inflammation/infection of the hair follicles
- Mild viral infections affecting infants and which damage fetuses
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Infection by staph or strep bacteria
Itchy ankles arising from other causes:
- Stress and anxiety
- Venous eczema
- Heat rash
- Golfer’s vasculitis caused by excessive workouts in hot water. It affects the feet and lower ankles
- Varicose veins
- Abuse of methamphetamine
Treatment of itchy ankles
As discussed above, itchy ankles can be caused by varied causes. Hence, it is important for all patients to consult a doctor. The doctor will diagnose the underlying causes and then prescribe relevant treatment and medications to cure it, thereby resolving itchy ankles.