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Skin Care and Diseases

Itchy legs at night

02/28/2006

Question:

About 2 weeks ago I broke out in a rash =(hundreds of tiny red bumps) on my legs but it has since cleared up. Since This is kind of weird, but since then I keep waking up every night between 2-3 AM with horribly itchy legs. I scratch myself raw for about 45 minutes, then fall back asleep and don`t have a problem until the following night at the same time. My legs don`t seem to really bother me any other time. I am using moisturizers (Eucerin or Aveeno) but no matter what I still wake up at 2 am scratching, and the itching sensation is very intense. I just moved to a new state and started a new job-- could this be stress related? Thank you. Jean

Answer:

It is hard to make a diagnosis from your description, particularly since the skin eruption has disappeared.  You might have a residual of pressure hives so that as you scratch the itching increases in intensity to the point where you damage your skin.  It is quite common for low grade dermatitis or skin with inflammatory processes to be more intense at night when outside influences do not distract you.  Moisturizers probably will not help, although they are not contraindicated.  You might try taking an over-the-counter antihistamine at bedtime.  This might help lessen the significant itching.

It would be important for you to have a careful examination by a board certified dermatologist to be certain that other disease processes are not present.  Good luck!

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati