Irritated, itchy skin in the area below the knees can range from mildly uncomfortable to downright disruptive. A persistent itch can lead to continuous scratching that may damage the skin. Skin that is itchy in one location has many causes, from dry skin to dermatitis, and the affected area may look normal or appear red, bumpy and rough. Because itchy skin can be frustrating, it is important for the sufferer to understand what kind of conditions may cause it and how it can be treated.
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Signs and Symptoms
Itchy skin below the knee area can create an uncomfortable sensation that promotes the need to scratch. The itchy feeling can be localized just in the area below the knee, but it can also spread to other areas of the bodies. It can make daily activities difficult, especially if the itch is stubborn and lasts longer than six weeks. A prolonged itch such as this is called chronic pruritus.
Why You Itch
Dry skin is a common cause of itchy skin that isn't accompanied by a rash. The loss of moisture due to dry air, especially in winter, can make skin itch, crack or peel. Other common causes of localized itch include eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, hives, aging skin and contant with irritants, such as soaps, chemicals, or wool. Parasite infestation, such as lice or scabies, can also cause severe itching on the body. Itching caused by an internal disorder such as liver or kidney disease usually affects the whole body, rather than one localized area.
Home Remedies and Care
A cold compress applied to the skin below the knees can relieve symptoms. Wear loose-fitting, light clothing, especially at night, and avoid wearing rough fabrics, such as wool. Use a moisturizer on the skin year-round, especially in winter, to relieve dry skin. Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on itchy areas or try an over-the-counter antihistamine if your itch is from allergies. In addition, lotions that contain camphor, calamine or pramoxine can also help to soothe itchiness. For severe or persistant itch, consult a doctor must determine the exact cause for the pruritus. A doctor may also suggest a prescription antihistamine, opiod-receptor antagonist medication, or corticosteroid.
Showering and Cleansing
Even though there are a variety of conditions that can cause itchy skin, there are basic methods to prevent pruritus. An itchy skin sufferer should only shower or take a bath in lukewarm or tepid water. This is because hot water can strip the skin of moisture. In addition, it is important that all soap is washed off once bathing is finished. Soaps and cleansers should be mild with a pH balance that is low.
Chronic scratching and itching may cause itchiness to intensify. Without treatment, this can cause a condition called neurodermatitis. This causes frequently scratched areas of skin to turn leather-like and thick. The affected area may appear darker or redder than the surrounding skin. In addition, repeatedly scratching the area below the knees can cause permanent scarring, hyperpigmentation of the skin or even a bacterial infection.