Avatar universal

Painfully itchy legs after shaving

I need help! About 12-24 hours after shaving (never right away), I develop and overpowering itch on the shaved areas (legs, armpits too, although the legs tend to itch the worst). This itch is so bad that I have woken up in the night reflexively scratching my legs until they bleed.

I've tried all the suggestions the internet has to offer. I've tried:
- nearly every shave lotion the market has to offer, including organic ones and regular body wash.
- nearly every razor the market has to offer; I use replaceable-head razors (Venus Divine) and I replace the head frequently.
- tried lotioning my legs after, and before  after showering with both Aveeno and St. Ives Intensive Healing
- tried using baby oil after, and before & after
- tried using tea tree oil and various other organic itch-calming treatments

None of these have worked

Once the itch starts, there is very little that will end it. I've tried:
- Regular and intensive lotions
- Eucerin anti-itch calming lotion
- Aloe Vera sunburn treatment (I thought the aloe or lidocaine in it might stop the itch)
- Benedryl (just in case it was an allergy to something in my shaving creams)
- OTC Hydrocortisone cream

Nothing works to stop the itch after it has begun. Pretty much all I can do is scratch and hope the itch ends before I scratch down to blood. It is agonizing and keeps me up at night. The same itch happens with Nair as well, but not hair-buffing although I could never get that to work to remove hair very well.

My doctor has no idea and just keeps saying "try a different shaving cream". He's not a very good doctor but I don't have a lot of insurance in-network options there. Has anyone heard of this? Do I have no option but to stop shaving?
188 Responses
563773 tn?1374246539
This itching after shaving can be due to contact dermatitis to the material used in shaving or due to infection of the hair follicles.Take Benadryl or Claritin and apply calamine lotion or a mild steroid cream after shaving and if the symptoms persist then you can opt for waxing or laser hair removal.A consultation of a cosmetologist will be the best in that case.
Hope it helps.Take care and pls do keep me posted on how you are doing or if you have any additional doubts.Kind regards.
Avatar universal
Forget that doctor, Kaur.  He obviously didn't read thoroughly enough to realize you said you've tried Benadryl and the lotions and such he recommended.

My wife has the same problem, and has had it ever since she first started shaving her legs when she was younger.  It drives her crazy.  It's all she can do to either wax and have a couple of weeks until the itching (which she has stopped because waxing *****), or just not shave at all.  Most people in these forums talk about how the itching is all women, but never connect that to the fact that it's shaving!  Most men don't shave their legs, so most don't have itch that comes from shaving!

Anyways, back to the point - She is suffering the same symptoms, has tried EVERYTHING.  The last doctor we went to basically said to just stop shaving and come back later (so we can pay even more for no answer?).  Right now she just shaves when she needs to, and she uses a pretty unspectacular electric razor because it doesn't shave very close, which means the hair doesn't have to grow back through the skin and itch.  Even then, she was just complaining about the itch coming back a few minutes ago, thus the reason I'm on here.

It appears to be something with the hairs growing back in.  Some possibilities are that the hair is poking the skin in the wrong way as it grows in (she even ends up with some in-grown hairs, but they aren't the ones that itch!), or my guess is it's something to do with circulation OR possibly the pores being too small.  If the hairs are growing in and are too large, even a slight bit, for the follicles, it could possibly cause itching.  Doesn't seem likely, but then again what does seem likely to cause so much itch and trouble?

I really do hope to help her find out what the problem is, and I hope you have luck as well.  If you KNOW, like we do, that the itch is caused by the hairs growing back in (which is why it's a day or so after shaving), then SAY that to the doctor when you go, and be very persistent.  Doctors aren't any smarter than other people.  Just like everyone else, they only know what they learn, and most of what they have learned is just lists of symptoms, what they can mean, and how to go about BSing treatments (sounds rough, but it's true.  No clue how many times people go in to get a rash treated and get a prescription without any sort of check to see what the cause of the rash is.  Or the prescription of anti-biotics which is stupid except in severe immune attacking sicknesses really).  

Be persistent and let the doctor know what is triggering it, then they might be able to take a better look when you are actually itching.  Go in a day after shaving, and if you have a trigger, use it when you go in to make sure they can look at it while it's happening.  For example, my wife's itching can be triggered by being cold.  If she's shaved in the past few days, she gets goosebumps really easily, and it makes her feel cold, and makes the itching a lot worse.

Try shaving one leg and not the other, then you have a comparison.  If the shaved leg itches and the other doesn't, there's more proof on your side.  Plus, when you go in to a doctor again, you can have them compare the two legs or something.

Sorry I can't offer a "solution" since I have not found one myself, but I do sympathize with you greatly.  Please do comment back or email ***@**** if you happen to find any answers.
Avatar universal
I had exactly the same problem you had for years.  I would shave my legs and within 12-24 hours, my legs would start itching horribly.  Most of the time this happened during the evening hours when I was in bed.  A couple of years ago I started investigating my allergies and realized that I was allergic to dozens of things, one of them being dust mites.  My allergist suggested that I encase my mattress and pillows to help decrease my exposure to dust mites.  I followed his advice and, almost instantly, my legs stopped itching after shaving!  The only conclusion I can draw is that the dust mites were irritating my freshly shaved legs.

Even if you aren't allergic to dust mites, I would strongly encourage encasing your mattress and pillows.  I purchased my microfiber encasings online from Mission Allergy, but you can find them other places as well.  I'd love to hear if anyone else has success with this.
Avatar universal
I have the same exact problem, and the two comments above are exactly right. My dermatologist is out of Emory Medical in Atlanta, and is amazing.

He said that your hair is growing back, and it itches to help the hair pierce the skin better, and remove dead skin from on top of the new hair growth. When you scratch, you naturally remove the dead skin on top of the new hair growth.

He suggested encasing my bed as well, and it really did help.

Finally, he suggest shaving downwards (from knee to ankle) instead of upwards. This really did help.

After shaving, it may help to ex foliate your skin each day, twice a day, to help keep dead skin from blocking new hair from growing.

This is no different than when you have a sunburn and you itch to help remove the dead skin.

Good luck, and please let me know how it works!!
Avatar universal
I also forgot to mention, salt baths help. You can go to your local grocery store and buy sea salt, and sprinkle it into your bath water. This helps heal any wound, itch, acne, bump, etc that you have on your skin.

Definitely try the exfoliating though, because that did WONDERS for me.
Avatar universal
I have the same issue with my legs and my doctor said the same things.  She had no idea what she was talking about!  This only started about 5 years ago for me and at first I thought it was the water since we had just moved.  But since then we have moved to several other places and I still have the same issue.  Don't listen to Dr. Kaur, he obviously didn't listen to a word you said.  The only relief I get when it starts itching is to get a hand towel (because they are bigger than washcloths) and drench it in cold water and wrap them around my legs.  This subsides the itching enough to where I can better attempt at ignoring the itch long enough to stop scratching.  

Reading the other posts though, I am going to have to try the mattress and pillow covers, because now that I think about it, the majority of the time the itching starts in bed.  But there are times when I am not in bed that it starts, too.  I hope you find something to relieve your itching...I definitely feel your pain!
Avatar universal
I have the exact same problem and had the exact same kind of dumb response from my Dr.  It's been going on for years and I could have written all these responses.  24-30 hours after shaving...itchy. Waking up at night drawing blood...ingrown hairs that I can see but those do not itch.  Thanks for the allergy tip, I'll look into anything.  I shave my legs only when I have to and thank goodness I live in a Northern state.  Stays colder longer, a perfect excuse to wear pants!
Avatar universal
I too have had "the itch" for years.  I am 72 years old, my mother had this,and two of my sisters had it.  I find that it is worse after any stimulation to my skin.  Rubbing with a towel, waves in the ocean, showers, pulling clothes on or off, caressing, etc.  I have tried everything, and have been told by Drs that it is dry weather, I live in Hawaii.  Most people look at me as if I were crazy, and frankly it makes me crazy at times.  I would love a Dr to take it seriously and help or at least study it to help so many of us.
Avatar universal
My wife is going through the same thing and I am researching hard to try and find her answer. I wish you all the best. This seems to be a terrible thing for many women. I have compiled a list of advice from many sources in my research -- I'll try and come back and post my list after getting it on my computer. I wish you all the best -- and a good answer to this problem.

Avatar universal
Hey Everyone,

I have compiled a short list of things you might try in order to find a little relief. It's obvious that there is no one answer to this problem, but I want to believe that some of these things could help you -- even if only a little. My hope is that something in my list will help you a LOT!

So, here's my list, which I will be giving to my wife when she comes home: (some ideas are from here and some from other places). Note: I only included an item in my list of I read that it had really helped someone -- and not just because it was somebody's idea.

1. Test multiple razors, gels, lotions – even single blade razors

2. Change your razor often  (suggestions ranged from after 2-5 uses to after every shave if it helps)

3. Press lightly when Shaving

4. Try shaving in the opposite direction from your current method

5. Don’t shave with soap as your “shaving cream”

6. Try Skintimate shave lotion

7. Try Bikini Zone Anti-Itch Shave Cream

8. Visit Bath and Body for a possible solution

9. Use different tools and methods (direction, razor, lotion) on each leg and track results until you a find combination that brings relief

10. Exfoliate your legs after shaving – maybe even twice a day.

11. Use unscented and non-perfumed lotions with calamine or E45 or aloe

12. Apply lotion in the same direction as hair growth

13.   Encase your mattress and pillows to help decrease exposure to dust mites

Thanks to everyone who took the time to post on this thread. Some of your ideas were absolutely fantastic. After my sweet wife has a chance to try some of these ideas, I will come back and post if we find a solution to her nagging itching legs!

Best to all of you!
Avatar universal
Hi, my suggestion, get rid of all shavers and shaving lotions and get yourself an Epilator.  It is the best thing on the market for removing hair, no irritation, no shaving lotions.  Releive the itching with alcohol. O.K.?
This made my problem worse
Avatar universal
So, I have the same problem and I use Oxy10 acne wash on my legs to shave, and it has solved the problem. It takes about a week or two to kick in. I'm guessing the itching is bacteria related. Also, my doctor put me on Dr. Wilson's adrenal rebuilder supplements and after about 6 months of use the itchy legs disappeared completely. Just a suggestion:)
Avatar universal
I just had a sleepless night dealing with this. I have scratched myself almost raw on my legs and thighs. Started about 2 months ago. My husband thinks it's the weather, but I'm 39 and lived through many falls/winters MUCH harsher. Skin is getting dryer just with age, but I reg./daily use Avenno Intensive Cream on my legs, feet, etc. I had to slather myself with Avenno Calamine Paroxidine Anti-Itch last night just to get minimal relief and awoke hours later, digging like crazy. Now I have little bumps everywhere from the scratching which most likely makes things worse. I feel for you all dealing with this. Miserable!!!!
Avatar universal
so i stopped shaving.  I'v not ben able to find any relief tried almost all this things before ever looking on the internet, no luck yet. i had to shave last night and now i'm suffering for it, just tried the alcohol idea no help.  i think it gets worse in bed because you have nothing else going on to take your mind of it. i'v noticed it doesn't itch until my first set of goosebumps after that its a non stop itch. i'm going to keep looking for an answer, my poor husband understands but he can't find my hairy legs sexy. good luck please come back with any further ideas
Avatar universal
hello ive been reading comments on itchy legs as mine have been driving me crazy since october.   ive never had this problem until ive moved back into my parents house in october??????   i used to use dove soap to wash and my mother buys imperial leather this is the only thing im doing differently do u think this could cause it?  i dont shave with soap just wash with it afterwards.   ive woke up today so frustrated as have been itching all night that bad my legs are stinging so annoying!!!!!!
1178299 tn?1263850268
I have the same problem mentioned here. The only relief I've been able to find is from Melaleuca Renew lotion. I've used other lotions that have helped temporarily, but I've been using Renew for a year and it still works. You can find it on eBay or Amazon. You can also find a Melaleuca rep on their website and sign up to buy it at a lower price, but that requires you to spend a certain amount of money with them every month. I've also found that almond oil from GNC helps, but even that stopped helping after a few months of using it. I hope this can help other people suffering from this. I know it's awful. I've also started applying the lotion in the direction of hair growth (downwards) and use Burt's Bee sulfate-free shampoo for shaving with. I found that at Kroger, but you can also find it online.
Avatar universal
Since the problem just began in October when you moved back in with your parents, it might be an allergy to dust mites in the mattress you're sleeping on.  Here's what I posted about that a few months ago:

I had exactly the same problem you had for years.  I would shave my legs and within 12-24 hours, my legs would start itching horribly.  Most of the time this happened during the evening hours when I was in bed.  A couple of years ago I started investigating my allergies and realized that I was allergic to dozens of things, one of them being dust mites.  My allergist suggested that I encase my mattress and pillows to help decrease my exposure to dust mites.  I followed his advice and, almost instantly, my legs stopped itching after shaving!  The only conclusion I can draw is that the dust mites were irritating my freshly shaved legs.

Even if you aren't allergic to dust mites, I would strongly encourage encasing your mattress and pillows.  I purchased my microfiber encasings online from Mission Allergy, but you can find them other places as well.  I'd love to hear if anyone else has success with this.
Avatar universal
I too have this 'syndrome' but it does not seem to follow any pattern.  I thought that by keeping my legs moisturised every day after showering it would help (and it is better than it used to be) but for instance today, directly after shaving (with a body lotion) it has started up again.  I only use natural products with few ingredients but the lotion has essential oils as fragrance.  

The interesting thing is that I have had this happen at different stages of hair growth.  Today it was immediately after shaving, other times it has been a day or two after and I have also had it when the hairs have been long.  It also does not happen every single time I shave my legs.  I can go for weeks or months perfectly OK and then one day it will return with a vengeance!   I have tried most of the ideas suggested here but never thought of dust mites. Could it be to do with our diet?
Avatar universal
I have the same problem. Question-How long do you go without
shaving? I come to find out if I shave every other day my legs don't itch.
But if I go a week without shaving, I know to get ready for a night of itching. So
when I'm lazy and don't shave for a week. I ended up shaving on a sunday so i can sit
in a the bath most of the day, having my legs in the water takes the itch away.
1210243 tn?1266005856
I've always had the itchy problem after shaving, but since I shaved monday, this has been the worst case ever, and i think it has to do with the fact that i went swimming in a chlorinated pool on tuesday, which just aggravated the situation (not to mention the pool was coldish and caused goosebumps, which i think always make it worse). Grrrrr, Gonna go try a bath with some corn starch. Used a handmade cream this morning (made entirely from oils, and scented with Lavender essential oil, which is always nice and healing for the skin), and they seem to be doing a little better. Glad to know im not the only one suffering through this, best of luck to all of you!
Avatar universal
Pretty much the same thing for me as well, it only happens if I shave against the hair, shaving with, or downward, waxing, or using Nair is really the only way around it.  However, I hate waxing; but shaving downward, or using Nair doesn't give you the smoothest results.

I suppose it's better than nothing though.
1236449 tn?1267926369
My Legs are soooo itchy!!! I keep putting on lotion every time it gets really itchy! I itch so hard, I end up getting cuts and scrapes on my legs! I guess it's a good thing I bite my nails. When I stopped shaving and my hair started to almost fully grow back out it wasn't as itchy anymore or not itchy at all. It was like I forgot to itch my legs or something! I also get a ton of razor burn on my legs I don't know how to get rid of especially on my upper thais which look horrible and don't look any better after itching them. After the first day or so I shave i can feel that my skin and legs are sensitive to even the heat of the water especially when I touch them when showering. It feels horrible. It could be the sensitivity in my skin after shaving but I've tried a lot of different lotions, shaving creme's, Razors, etc.
Everyone had some really good tips and comments! I'm really thank full and will give it a try.

I'm a 20 year old male.
Ladies...I feel your pain!!!
Avatar universal
I have been getting the most insanely itchy legs that starts several hours after shaving, on and off for a few years now.  It literally gets so itchy/painful that I feel crazy.  Small slightly reddish lumpy welt-type-things start raising up over my legs, they almost feel like mini bee stings all over my calves and shins.  I've noticed it gets especially bad when I go swimming in the ocean within a day or so of shaving, and as soon the salt water touches my legs, it starts to feel irritated and then a couple hours later it gets a lot worse.  The only thing I've found to help is to not shave for a while, and not apply any lotions of any sort while it's "flared up" because last time I tried that thinking it would calm the itch- it caused the lumps to instantly get even more itchy and sore and I had to quickly rinse my legs in cool water!  Then I just have to wait it out for a few days until the hairs grow out more and the itchy lumps aren't flared up anymore.  I do not want to have to deal with this for the rest of my life, it really ***** big time.  I think it is now officially a necessity for me to get laser hair removal.  I also have dust mite allergies, I found that interesting to read there could be a correlation.  I can't wait to be free of this!
Avatar universal
Ive been having the same problem ever since I started shaving again, at least its become worse now. I used to use an epilator and just pull the hairs out entirely, but this made hairs grow in all over my legs, making it look like I had acne all over my legs. So, back to shaving. Now, after about 12-24 hours after shaving it starts itching.

I dont know about everyone else, but this is only my legs. I dont have the same problem with my armpits or pubic hair.
Also, it is all the time, not only when Im in bed. I can be sitting in a lecture and just really have to restrain myself to not start scratching in an insane manner, though I really still have to scratch.

The only thing that remotely works when its started itching is cold water; I just let it run over my legs. This is of course not really a solution.

If anyone knows of anything that really helps and not the crap solutions of new razors, and other products that everyone here has really tried, that would be amazing.

At the moment and looking into and shaving up for laser hair removal, which after some treatments should remove ALL hairs and thus never cause this problem again. Just very expensive. Though, if you have the money, I would really consider it.
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