Strawberry legs is a common term for small dark spots or tiny pits on the legs that resemble strawberry seeds. The dark spots are clogged pores or open comedones — semisolid plugs of oil, dirt, dead skin cells, or bacteria. The dark color occurs when the substances in the plug react with air and skin pigments such as melanin. Ingrown hairs may also cause strawberry legs, especially on people with thick or curly hair. Shaving is the most common cause of this skin condition. Managing strawberry legs is usually fairly straightforward, involving changes to skincare and grooming routines.
Causes of Strawberry Legs: Razor Burn
Shaving with old, dull razors often leads to razor burn. Dull blades drag against skin, causing irritation and catching hairs that snap back into pores. Old or soiled razors can carry microorganisms that get forced into pores. Insufficient lubrication from soap or shaving cream is also a factor. Razor burn usually looks like a rash or acne.
Follicles are small pores in the skin from which hairs grow. Folliculitis is an infection of hair follicles usually caused by fungus or bacteria. Infection can occur in a single pore or spread. Red or white bumps appear on the skin, along with inflammation and soreness. If the infection continues, the sores can develop a yellow or white discharge. Shaving can cause folliculitis, as can hot tubs and personal care items harboring fungus and bacteria. Regularly replace personal care items such as loofahs or exfoliating mitts to reduce the risk of infection.
Cause: Keratosis Pilaris and Dry Skin
Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that causes small bumps on the skin consisting of dead skin cells and with a rough exterior. Dry skin is more prone to keratosis pilaris and irritation from shaving. Existing comedones and other skin blemishes or irritation become more noticeable if the skin is too dry. Dry-brushing in circular motions is one way to remove dry skin and dead skin cells.
Exfoliating inhibits ingrown hairs by softening the skin and removing dead cells, so new hair grows smoothly through the skin’s surface. This cosmetic practice also reduces debris that could clog pores. Exfoliating creams, gels, and masks are widely available for purchase, and it is also easy to make your own at home using sugar or salt and oils.
An epilator is a hand-held device for removing hair. It grabs hairs and pulls them out at the roots without irritating skin around the hair follicles. Epilators produce smooth skin and the results last longer than shaving, but they can be uncomfortable or painful to use. Using numbing cream or selecting an epilator that works on wet skin can make the process more comfortable. A professional waxing procedure before beginning to use an epilator can also ease the transition.
Prevention: Shaving Routine
A proper shaving routine can reduce or prevent strawberry legs. It is best to shave during a shower because the warm water enlarges pores, allowing the razor to remove the hairs more easily. Use a good, sharp razor that shaves close to the skin. Always use moisturizing shaving cream or gel and draw the razor gently across the skin in the direction of hair growth. Avoiding shaving the same area multiple times will also help prevent irritation. Splash skin with cold water to close pores after shaving, then pat dry with a clean, soft towel.
Well-hydrated skin is healthy and resists irritation, so moisturizing should always be part of daily skincare. Many natural substances are excellent moisturizers. Aloe vera contains mucopolysaccharides that bind water to epithelial cells on the skin’s top layers. Jojoba, shea, and argan oils contain vitamin E and lipids. Buttermilk contains lactin, a natural exfoliating substance.
Permanent hair removal is a long-term treatment for strawberry legs. Modern electrolysis uses electricity or chemical energy to destroy the growth center of individual hair follicles. Laser therapy uses pulses of laser light to destroy multiple follicles simultaneously. Permanent removal with laser therapy usually requires three to seven sessions.
Home Remedies for Strawberry Legs
Egg whites are full of protein and other nutrients. A mixture of egg whites and lemon juice tightens skin and reduces pore size. Rub the mixture on skin and let it dry, then rinse it off with cold water. A mixture of baking soda and milk can have a similar effect — baking soda exfoliates and cleanses skin. Avocado and cucumber are more great products you might have in your fridge.
Tea tree oil contains many nutrients for healthy skin, as well as anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Olive oil is moisturizing and rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil into olive oil or another carrier, then rub the mixture onto legs in a circular motion. Rosewater and witch hazel can be added to this daily mixture as well. Rosewater soothes irritation and inflammation, and witch hazel is an antioxidant.