Why Are My Shins Itchy?

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Itchy shins are marked by an urge to scratch the lower legs and accompanying redness or bumps on the skin at times. Having itchy shins can be uncomfortable, but as with itchy skin elsewhere, itchy shins usually fade away and are not a cause for concern.

However, knowing the cause behind itchy shins can help with treatment and with pinpointing underlying health issues a person might have.

This article examines the potential causes of itchy shins, treatment options, and when to see a healthcare provider.

A woman with itchy shins sitting down.

Westend61 / Getty Images

Causes of Itchy Shins

There are several potential reasons why a person might have itchy shins, ranging from dry skin to hormonal changes to chronic conditions like diabetes.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is the result of water and oil loss from the skin. This affects the structure of the skin's layers, making it less protective against the environment, including triggers like allergies and chemicals. As a result of dryness, skin is more likely to be cracked, scaly, and itchy.

Cold Weather

Not only does cold weather dry out skin, but it also causes skin reactions like hives, which are red bumps that at times can be itchy. Hives usually disappear on their own within hours to weeks.

Rarely, hives caused by cold weather are a symptom of perniosis (chilblains), or inflammation of the small blood vessels caused by cold. Perniosis can cause itchiness, bluish-red discoloration, and bullae, which are lesions that look like blisters.


As we age, our skin becomes thinner and less protective. This can lead to dryness, sensitivity, and a higher likelihood of infection. Skin conditions like eczema can also worsen with age.

Changes in Hormones

For people who go through menopause, the skin can become drier as hormones change, which can lead to rashes. Skin conditions like eczema can also worsen with menopause.

Skin Conditions That Could Cause Itchy Shins

Common skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis, may cause itchy shins.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, occurs when the skin reacts to the environment or emotional stress. Symptoms of eczema on shins could include redness, dryness, and itchiness.

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system overreacts to triggers and produces extra skin cells. Symptoms include redness, flakiness, scaliness, and itchiness.

Allergic Reactions

If your skin reacts to an allergen—like pollen, detergents, dander, perfumes, insects bites, and certain plants⁠—you may develop hives, rashes, or swelling. If the rash, itching, or swelling spreads rapidly beyond your shin or also includes swelling of the throat, seek emergency care.


Itchiness and rash can be side effects of some medications. In 5% to 10% of those cases, the reaction indicates an allergy.

If your itchy shins occur when taking medication, speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible about the possibility of an allergic reaction. Be aware that a quickly spreading rash could require emergency care.


Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland, a gland in the neck that produces hormones to regulate metabolism and functions like heartbeat and breathing, does not produce enough hormones.

Dry skin, bumps, and rashes can all be symptoms of hypothyroidism for some people. If your shins feel itchy for longer than a few weeks and you have dry skin, seek a consultation with a healthcare provider.


Diabetes occurs when the body isn't able to properly process glucose (sugar), causing high levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes increases the likelihood of skin irritation, including dry skin, itching, and infections.

How to Treat Itchy Shins

There are several methods to stop itchy skin. Treating itchy shins can usually be done at home, but for chronic conditions, a healthcare provider visit might be necessary. Itchy skin treatment can include:

  • Avoiding scratching or picking at the itchy shins
  • Applying hydrocortisone cream
  • Using over-the-counter antihistamines
  • Avoiding perfumes, dyes, and harsh chemicals in body products or detergents
  • Applying a cold compress on the itchy area
  • Moisturizing a few times a day and especially after bathing
  • Taking lukewarm instead of hot baths or oatmeal baths
  • Wearing loose, comfortable clothing
  • Avoiding exposure to heat
  • Avoiding humidity
  • Treating underlying health issues, such as thyroid issues or diabetes

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If your itchy shins last longer than a few weeks, do not go away with at-home treatments, or seem severe, see your healthcare provider for testing.

Diagnosing chronically itchy shins will likely include an examination or possibly taking a skin sample to test for infection or a skin disorder. A blood test to check conditions like hypothyroidism or diabetes might also be necessary.

When to Seek Emergency Care for Itchy Skin

It's advised seek emergency care for itchy skin in the case of:

  • A sudden rash that is spreading quickly, especially if a person's breathing is affected
  • A fever with a rash
  • A rash that blisters or is painful
  • If a rash is infected, which might include pain and swelling or yellow-green fluid


Having itchy shins is usually a harmless condition that should go away on its own. The likely causes of itchy shins can include dry skin, age, hormonal changes, skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis, allergies, or medication.

At times, itchy shins may indicate an underlying issue like hypothyroidism or diabetes, both of which dry out the skin.

Treating itchy shins could include anti-itch creams, moisturizing to heal dry skin, avoiding skin irritants like harsh detergents or perfumes, taking antihistamines, and treating underlying health issues.

A Word From Verywell 

Itchy shins can be uncomfortable, but the good news is that they will likely heal on their own. If your itchy shins last longer than a few weeks and do not respond to treatments, you might need to get tested for a chronic health concern or allergies. While itchy skin is common, it can also be a symptom of problems like an underactive thyroid or diabetes.

At times, itchy skin can simply be aging or hormonal fluctuations. Getting tested can be key to not only clearing up your skin but being healthier overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I be concerned about itchy shins?

    If itchy shins last longer than a few weeks, get tested by a healthcare provider for a skin condition (like eczema or psoriasis), allergy, or health issues like hypothyroidism or diabetes. If a rash that begins at the shins spreads rapidly, emergency care might be necessary. Swelling, blistering, discoloration, and infection also require medical care.

  • How can I get my shins to stop itching fast?

    Using an anti-itch cream or a topical anesthetic might help heal your skin relatively quickly. Oatmeal baths and healing dry skin with a fragrance-free moisturizer could also help. Cold compresses or cooling agents like menthol or calamine creams could also help.

  • Will itchy shins go away on their own?

    It is likely that your itchy shins will go away on their own. This could take hours to weeks. However, if itchy shins do not respond to home treatments, seek medical help. Itchy shins that last a long time may be a sign of allergies, skin issues like psoriasis, or chronic health concerns like hypothyroidism. If your shins are itchy for a long time, getting your skin examined or undergoing tests might be necessary.

19 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Neha Kashyap
Neha is a New York-based health journalist who has written for WebMD, ADDitude, HuffPost Life, and dailyRx News. Neha enjoys writing about mental health, elder care, innovative health care technologies, paying for health care, and simple measures that we all can take to work toward better health.