What Causes Strawberry Legs and How to Get Rid of Them

Strawberry legs are a common skin condition that usually resolves without harming the patient. However, some may find the condition embarrassing and desire treatment. The good news is that it is normally easy to treat and disappears without any long-term effects. Read on to learn how to diagnose, prevent, and treat strawberry legs.

Key takeaways:

What are strawberry legs?

Strawberry legs are a benign condition that can have several different causes. The condition is called strawberry legs because tiny, dark, red-black spots appear on the legs that look like strawberry pits. Patients may complain of itchiness, soreness, or irritation. They are more pronounced on lighter skin people with dark hair or large pores. Basically, strawberry legs are clogged pores. They can get clogged with dirt, oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The dark color results from air oxidizing the oil and turning it black.

What causes strawberry legs?

Several skin problems can lead to the appearance of strawberry legs. They can appear due to improper hygiene or underlying medical conditions. Most causes can be easily treated and prevented.

Here are the most common reasons for strawberry legs:

  • Shaving. Shaving with an old, dull razor or without the proper shaving cream causes razor burns, ingrown hairs, and infections.
  • Folliculitis. Folliculitis is a common skin infection causing inflammation of the hair follicles. It can come from not changing out of your workout clothes quickly, improperly maintained hot tub or pool water, tight clothing, humid weather, shaving, or waxing.
  • Clogged pores. Clogged pores occur especially in adolescents who experience excess sebum/oil production due to hormone fluctuations. These oily pores collect dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria and become blackheads (open comedones).
  • Dry skin. Dry skin leads to irritation (razor burn) after shaving and results in redness around the follicles.
  • Keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin condition that presents with redness around the hair follicles on the legs and arms. It results from keratin and dead skin cells clogging the pores giving the skin a rough feel.

Treatment of strawberry legs

Treatment of strawberry legs depends on the cause. The most common cause is improper shaving, so treatment of strawberry legs from shaving usually involves revamping your skincare routine and hair removal techniques. Some simple changes can really make a big difference in your skin. If your condition is not improving or worsening or you are unsure of your diagnosis, consult your dermatologist for guidance.

Here are some treatment options for strawberry legs caused by shaving:

  • New razor. Shave with a new, sharp razor with a flexible head. Shave in the direction of the hair growth with short, light strokes.
  • Shaving cream. Use a moisturizing shaving cream in the shower. Select one for sensitive skin that does not contain dyes or fragrances.
  • Exfoliate. Apply an exfoliator once or twice a week, such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid. Use sunscreen because these products make you more susceptible to sunburns and sun damage.
  • Moisturize. Use a moisturizer once to twice a day. Select one for sensitive skin that does not contain dyes or fragrances.
  • Shaving alternatives. Consider alternatives to shaving or waxing, such as an epilator, electrolysis, or laser treatments.
  • Don't tan. Avoid self-tanner because it can make your strawberry legs look worse.

Treatment of the other causes of strawberry legs involves treating the underlying cause. For folliculitis, treatment includes topical or oral medication to treat the underlying bacterial or fungal infection. If dry skin is the cause, use a mild, moisturizing cleanser and thick moisturizing cream twice daily. Treatment of clogged pores with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids may help. Patients with keratosis pilaris may benefit from treatment with moisturizers, lactic acid, or urea creams.

Prevention of strawberry legs

Many of the ways to prevent strawberry legs are similar to the treatments listed above. These include proper skin care practices and good shaving techniques, such as using a new razor, shaving cream, exfoliator, and moisturizer to care for your skin and keep it in good shape. Be sure to cleanse the skin before shaving to help remove dirt and bacteria. You may also consider alternatives to shaving and waxing, such as an epilator, laser, or electrolysis.

Strawberry legs are usually harmless and easy to treat at home. It requires modifying your self-care routine and hair removal practices. If it does not resolve or you experience worsening pain, call your dermatologist immediately and get treatment. Prompt treatment gets you a quicker resolution of your strawberry legs.

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