You’re sitting on the end of your bed putting on your socks when you see that your legs are smooth and shiny. You chalk it up to just losing leg hair with age and go about your daily routine. However, over the next few weeks you start feeling some leg pain and cramping making it difficult to walk the dog. Checking your legs again, you notice the shiny skin on your shins and you try to apply lotion to remedy the issue.
If you are over the age of 50 and you observe significant hair loss on the legs, ankles, or feet, it may be caused by an underlying vascular issue known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).
What Causes Hair Loss On Legs?
There are many reasons why you may be experiencing shiny skin on your shins or hair loss on the legs. Some of these include:
- Scarring or other physical injuries to the skin
- Anterolateral leg alopecia
- Chemotherapy or radiation
- Steroids or other medications
- Hair follicle infections
- Eczema, psoriasis, or other skin issues
- Diabetes, especially type 2
- Chronic venous insufficiency (vein disease)
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
However, poor circulation in the legs, ankles, and feet is one of the most common causes, especially for those over the age of 50. If your blood vessels such as your veins or arteries are blocked or damaged, oxygen and nutrients aren’t able to circulate properly. Peripheral artery disease is a serious vascular condition that is caused by plaque buildup within the arteries. When these vessels are either partially or fully blocked (depending on the severity of your condition) you may experience a myriad of issues including hair not growing on your legs, shiny skin on the shins, poor circulation, and dry skin. Hair loss on legs occurs when the blood supply is not able to provide optimal nutrients for hair growth.
Typically you will notice hair not growing on your legs, ankles, or feet over a few months. It’s important to track any symptoms you may be experiencing including any pain or discomfort when walking or climbing stairs. It’s common for people to think that losing leg hair with age is nothing to be worried about. For the most part, you may be right; however, it may be that your body is trying to tell you that you have improper circulation. When plaque buildup gets worse, you may also notice slow or non-healing wounds on the legs, ankles, or feet. This is another sign that poor circulation is the cause behind the hair loss on your legs.
Can Diabetes Cause Hair Loss On Legs?
Yes, diabetes can cause hair loss on the legs because of damaged blood vessels. Having chronic high blood pressure and/or cholesterol can result in stressed or inflamed arteries. Cholesterol build up over time will also contribute to PAD hair loss on the legs. Managing cholesterol and blood pressure levels can help you avoid hair loss on the legs as well as shiny skin on the shins. When blood is able to circulate freely through your arteries, your legs will be able to allocate more nutrients for healthy hair growth.
It’s important to consult a vascular specialist if you have diabetes and are experiencing hair loss on your legs. They can use either an angiogram or an ankle-brachial index (ABI) test to determine if you have peripheral artery disease. PAD hair loss on the legs can easily be treated, especially if you are diagnosed early on.
Peripheral Artery Disease: Feet and Leg Issues
If you’ve noticed that you have shiny legs with no hair, you may or may not be experiencing other PAD symptoms such as:
- Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
- Leg pain that stops when at rest or elevating your feet
- Slow or non-healing wounds on your legs
- Restlessness in your legs felt especially at night
- Cramping or leg pain in your thigh, calf, or buttocks
- Leg fatigue or heaviness
- Skin discoloration or dryness
- Tingling or numbness in your legs, ankles, feet, or toes
- One leg being cool to the touch when compared to the other
Hair loss on legs is just one of the many signs and symptoms of PAD. However, it’s crucial to note that not all people with PAD experience symptoms. If you’re over the age of 50 and have risk factors like diabetes, family history of vascular disease, smoking, etc. you should consult a vascular specialist about your risk.
Poor Circulation and Dry Skin
Not only does poor circulation caused by peripheral artery disease cause hair loss on the legs or shiny skin on shins, but it can cause overall dry skin. Administering even the best lotion will not treat poor circulation and dry skin caused by PAD. Cracked, dry skin needs to be evaluated by a vascular specialist to prevent serious issues like ulcers, open wounds, and gangrene. If you notice a non-healing wound on your leg, make sure to apply antibacterial ointment on the cut and see a doctor immediately.
Poor circulation and dry skin can only be cured by treating the underlying vascular condition. Once your PAD is treated, your skin will be able to heal and hair growth should resume normally. Thankfully, there are easy, nonsurgical options for people who are living with hair loss on the legs caused by peripheral artery disease.
How to Treat PAD Hair Loss On Legs
The best way to treat PAD hair loss on legs, ankles, and feet is getting to the root of the issue. Whether you have been diagnosed or not, it’s important to treat poor circulation and vascular disease as early as possible. If you suspect your hair loss on the legs or shiny skin on your shins are caused by peripheral artery disease, you should get checked right away. A quick and easy ABI test can help your vascular specialist understand how severe your condition is. Once that is analyzed, your physician can suggest a treatment plan that fits your individual needs.
For moderate to severe PAD, a nonsurgical, outpatient treatment like stent angioplasty can help open up blocked arteries so blood can once again circulate freely to your legs and feet. At USA Vascular Centers, we aim to make PAD treatment as easy and convenient as possible. With outpatient treatment centers nationwide, you can get your hair loss on your legs treated in no time. By opening up narrowed arteries, your leg hair can resume to grow and painful symptoms will subside.
If you want to learn more about our nonsurgical treatment, give us a call at 888-773-2193 or schedule a consultation conveniently online.