The medical term for hair loss is called alopecia, with losing leg hair being called anterolateral leg alopecia. This type of hair loss is one that few dermatologists study, so there are few treatments specifically for it.
When you start losing hair on your legs, it is usually on your lower legs and in patches. Patchy hair loss can look obvious and make you self-conscious about showing your legs. However, you should be proud of your body, which means you shouldn’t ignore anterolateral leg alopecia.
Diagnosing Hair Loss On Legs
There are many theories about what causes hair follicles on your legs to stop making new hair. A common belief is that tight socks or shoes cut off blood flow to your calves. However, anything that tight would cause leg pain and other symptoms like foot problems.
Hair loss on the legs is almost always a sign that something else is wrong. This is why getting professional medical advice can be vital, even if you don’t care to grow hair back on your legs.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as peripheral arterial disease, is almost identical to peripheral vascular disease. PAD is the most common, but they all involve poor circulation due to arteries and blood vessels failing to deliver enough blood to your extremities.
Your blood flow plays an important role in your hair health. If your hair follicles are not getting enough blood going to them, they can become nutrient deficient, even if you are getting all your necessary nutrients.
Other risk factors that contribute to leg hair loss include:
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Plaque buildup
These, like peripheral artery disease, can permanently damage your arteries, especially in your lower limbs. It frequently causes skin discoloration before hair loss on the legs or elsewhere on the body. Skin color changes can either be paler skin due to a lack of blood in the area, or redness and swelling as the blood isn’t taken away from the extremities fast enough.
Genetic Hair Disorders
Genetic hair loss is a common reason people lose hair. Male pattern baldness runs in families and is caused by a buildup of DHT around your follicles. This buildup primarily happens on your scalp, but it can affect leg hair and body hair.
Though it has yet to be proven what causes alopecia areata, this hair loss condition is thought to be genetic as well. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where one’s immune system attacks hair follicles. Again, though this usually causes hair loss on your head, it can also cause body hair loss.
Hypotrichosis is a less common genetic hair disorder with symptoms that are often noticeable at birth. Those born with autosomal recessive hypotrichosis have sparse, breakable hair that continues to thin as they grow.
There is more than one type of thyroid disease that can cause you to lose hair. Losing leg hair is one of the less common side effects when your thyroid gland is malfunctioning. The most common are hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid).
You may not notice symptoms of thyroid problems at first. As soon as you do, you should get medical attention. Some common symptoms of a thyroid condition are:
- Lack of energy
- Losing hair
- Hormone imbalances
Hormone imbalances can cause many other problems like depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and increased sweating. Therefore, thyroid conditions can cause any combination of those symptoms on top of affecting the hair on your lower legs.
Some medications are known to cause drug-induced alopecia. If you have a fungal infection, Voriconazole is a medication that may be prescribed that is known for causing hair loss on the legs.
Medications for thyroid conditions are also a problem for hair growth. Unfortunately, you can’t always switch to something else if the medication your doctor prescribes is causing a loss of body hair.
Other medications that might cause hair loss are ACE inhibitors, amphetamines, and beta-blockers. Also, any medication that changes your hormones in any way can affect the hair on your legs. These include everything from birth control to antidepressants.
Most medications have a paper with them that lists their possible side effects. However, this list tends to be only the most common side effects. Because of that, it is possible to experience something that was not listed.
Besides those reasons that may cause hair loss on your legs, there are many less common possibilities. Nutritional deficiencies, pituitary gland disorders, adrenal gland disorders, and hormone changes. Hormone changes can be caused by menopause, severe stress, polycystic ovary syndrome, and many other things.
Chronic rashes from conditions like eczema and psoriasis damage your hair follicles over time. This damage can easily cause permanent hair loss. Almost any type of skin condition affects your follicles and, therefore, your hair.
Treating Leg Hair Loss On Legs
Hair growth can sometimes happen all on its own without any intervention needed. However, it is better to get an accurate diagnosis to see if you have a medical condition causing it.
If your circulation is poor, some signs may be sores that don’t heal around your feet, leg pain, your lower extremities having a pale skin color, and swollen ankles. An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test measures the blood pressure at your ankle at your arm and then compares the two.
Most types of heart diseases affect your circulation. Exercising, massaging your legs, and using a boar bristle brush are all easy things you can do.
Since peppermint and other herbs are good at increasing circulation, you may find it beneficial to soak your feet in hot water that has a few drops of peppermint or some other essential oil in it.
Deal With Your Medical Condition
If you have high blood pressure or one of the other conditions that affect your blood flow, you should take whatever your doctor prescribes. For high cholesterol, your doctor may also recommend dietary changes as part of your treatment plan.
An adrenal gland disorder, thyroid condition, etc., can cause your hair to stop growing but are all treatable with the right medicine and a few lifestyle changes. If left untreated, these conditions might result in a hospital stay in later stages.
Unfortunately, treatments for genetic conditions are not always successful. There is also the possibility you are losing leg hair because of the medicine you are taking to treat something else. In this situation, you should ask your doctor if you can switch to a different treatment plan.
Intake Proper Nutrients
Certain nutrients like Vitamin A and selenium can cause you to experience hair loss if you intake too much of them. This is why getting a blood test is vital. Blood tests are a quick way to know if you have a nutrient deficiency.
Treating hair loss caused by this only requires you to take the vitamins or minerals you are low on. Vitamin D and Iron are two of the more common vitamins associated specifically with hair loss on the legs. This is because your legs don’t have as much of the oils as your scalp does, making ones like Vitamin E that increase the sebum on your scalp less necessary.
Though taking vitamins is the most efficient way to guarantee you get the vitamins you need, you can also change your diet. Dark leafy greens and red meat can help your iron levels, for example, as can any other iron-rich food.
Care For Your Leg Hair
Most things that are good for the hair on your head are also good for the hair on your legs. These include hair masks, hair growth supplements, and other things. You don’t have to brush your leg hair like you do your scalp, but you can make sure the skin on your legs doesn’t get damaged from either scrapes or sunburn.
Hair loss on legs can be caused by anything that damages your skin. So, you should also try to avoid chemicals like chlorine on your legs.
While hair regrowth on your legs may not be as important or as noticeable as hair growth on your scalp, losing hair here should be something you take care of as soon as you notice it. If you see any of the other symptoms of the conditions listed here, you should set an appointment with your doctor.
Have you or someone you know experienced hair loss on their legs? Was it due to blood flow problems or something else? I’d love to know what treatment worked!