What Are the Most Common Causes of Leg Rashes?

Meshell Powell

Leg rashes can have a variety of causes, most of which do not pose any significant health risks. Among the most common causes of rashes affecting the legs are skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Bacterial or fungal infections may also contribute to the development of leg rashes. More serious causes include diabetes complications, allergic reactions, or peripheral artery disease. Any specific questions or concerns about leg rashes should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A topical antibiotic may be used to treat a leg rash.
A topical antibiotic may be used to treat a leg rash.

Eczema is a common skin condition that causes patches of dry, scaly skin to develop. These lesions may itch, crack, or ooze but do not generally cause any damage to the overall health of the patient. Leg rashes that are caused by eczema are usually treated with topical medications and moisturizers that do not contain alcohol.

Bacterial infections sometimes cause leg rashes.
Bacterial infections sometimes cause leg rashes.

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Psoriasis is a disorder of the skin that can lead to thick patches of skin that may itch or burn. The pain associated with this condition ranges from mild to incapacitating. Arthritis is frequently present in those with this type of skin disorder. Prescription medication and phototherapy are often used to treat psoriasis.

Fungal infections such as ringworm are among the most common causes of leg rashes.
Fungal infections such as ringworm are among the most common causes of leg rashes.

Bacterial infections, especially those caused by staphylococcus, sometimes cause leg rashes. A combination of oral and topical antibiotic medications may be used to treat this infection. Some strains of staphylococcus are resistant to many antibiotics, so a culture may be performed to make sure the proper medications are prescribed. It is important to seek medical attention any time that an infection is suspected because if left untreated, serious and potentially fatal complications may develop.

Fungal infections such as ringworm are among the most common causes of leg rashes. The rash associated with ringworm often starts as one small red lesion that grows and forms the shape of a ring. This type of rash is highly contagious, so care should be taken to avoid infecting others. Over-the-counter creams and sprays are available at most pharmacies to treat ringworm.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to leg rashes that may become easily infected, so it is extremely important for diabetics to remain under the treatment of a physician. Allergic reactions to foods, detergents, or other substances may cause a rash to develop on the legs. If the rash is accompanied by chest pain, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing, emergency medical attention is crucial. Peripheral artery disease is a circulatory system disorder that can cause leg rashes that may bleed and be slow to heal.

Eczema is a common cause of leg rashes.
Eczema is a common cause of leg rashes.

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Discussion Comments


@turkay1-- That actually sounds like golfer's vasculitis rash. It affects people who exercise in heat. It's seen frequently in golf players because they walk a lot while golfing and it's usually hot.

It's a heat rash so it looks like the skin is flushing and it mostly shows up in the lower legs, around and below the calves. It goes away with rest and by staying cool.


@turkay1-- It might be. Do you get the rash on other parts of your body or just your legs?

My mom has a sunlight allergy and she gets a rash as well. But the rash affects all parts of her body that receive sunlight, not just her legs.

If it's only affecting your legs, it might be a different kind of rash. You need to see a dermatologist.


I get a rash on my legs whenever I'm out in the sun too much. Little red spots appear everywhere but they're not raised or itchy. What could be the cause? Is it a sun allergy?

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