ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have a red rash on my calves?

Question

Why do I have a red rash on my calves?

Lately, I've developed a red rash on my calves and around to the front of my shins. It is very itchy, and if I scratch it, it seems to spreading. I haven't been exposed to anything like poison oak or poison ivy. The skin feels very tight, and benedryl is not helping. When I take a shower, the hot water makes the areas feel very painful and tender. I currently take a beta blocker and lisinopril for my blood pressure. I recently found out I was diabetic.

Answer

If the rash is bright red, raised, warm, or spreading and if there is fever then this could be a sign of a skin infection and you would need to seek immediate medical care. However, this does not sound like what is going on. It sounds more likely that you have developed dry skin or a contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that is caused by exposure to some chemical or allergen, usually something like a new soap or personal care product or laundry detergent. Treatment involves stopping the offending agent as well as using a topical steroid cream to get the itching under control. Dry skin, or eczema (which is the more severe, chronic form of dry skin), causes inflammation, itching, and redness of the skin. It is common in winter months. Avoiding hot water and soap is important to prevent further irritation. Daily skin moisturizing with a thick, greasy moisturizer like hydrolated petrolatum is also important and, also, many cases require a steroid cream to get under control. I suggest first talking to your primary care doctor, as they will be able to look at the rash and help you decide what is going on and what treatment is appropriate.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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