Cuboid syndrome

Contact dermatitis: Why do I have red itchy skin on my ankles?

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If your ankles are reddened, itchy and blotchy, it might be contact dermatitis. This typically occurs once the skin came in contact with a substance or allergen and the condition involves an inflammatory response.

Always bear in mind that these symptoms can also be triggered by insect bites. Depending on the cause, the discomfort can make the individual miserable. In case the symptoms are severe, it is vital to set an appointment with a doctor so that proper diagnosis can be given and treatment can be started.

Close look on contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis involves the development of an itchy reddened rash. These red patches are somewhat similar to a burn that might be visible on the ankles. There is also a warm sensation and swelling often present after the ankle was exposed to a particular substance.

The skin on the ankles can ooze, blister and have a dry crust-like appearance. In case insect bites are present, the affected area appears itchy, reddened and have bumps that vary in size.

What are the possible causes?

Contact dermatitis
The skin on the ankles can ooze, blister and have a dry crust-like appearance.

Contact dermatitis can be triggered by an allergen or irritant. The appearance of the 2 types is similar but the symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis become evident right after exposure while an allergen might take up to 10 days for an initial reaction to occur. Nevertheless, once the individual has been exposed to an allergen, brief exposure with a small amount in the future can trigger an allergic reaction within 24-48 hours.

Since the skin affected is on the ankles, a typical allergic reaction is from poison ivy. Nevertheless, sunscreen, laundry detergent, fabrics and topical medications are capable of triggering allergic contact dermatitis. Certain irritants might be responsible for the itchy ankles such as soaps, ankle bracelets and household cleaning agents. If insect bites are scratched, the skin can end up reddened and inflamed.


Contact dermatitis typically clears up within 2-4 weeks but there are measures that must be taken to relieve the itchiness momentarily. There are over-the-counter creams that contain at least 1% hydrocortisone and the application of a cold compress to relieve the itchiness on the ankles is also beneficial.

Oral antihistamines and calamine lotion can also help with the itchiness. If the individual experiences a severe reaction after being exposed to an irritant or allergen, a doctor should be consulted since corticosteroids might be needed to minimize the inflammation. Soak the feet in a basin of cool water that contains baking soda.


The ideal way to prevent contact dermatitis is to avoid the triggers. Those who are staying in an area where poison ivy or other plants are present, it is recommended to wear long pants and foot gear that provides protection to the ankles.

Upon exposure to an allergen or irritant, cleanse the exposed skin with water and mild soap right away.

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