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What Are Strawberry Legs? A Complete Guide

woman with strawberry legs

“Strawberry legs” sounds kind of cute, right? But if you’re familiar with the phrase, you probably don’t find it all that endearing. And if you’re not familiar with it, it might lose its charm pretty quickly once you attach it to its meaning.

After shaving or waxing, you find yourself with dark spots, ingrown hairs or enlarged pores all over your legs… you maybe didn’t know you knew strawberry legs, but you do. Because that’s what it describes! It’s obviously not a scientific or technical term — it’s just a broad phrase used to describe what your legs look like when they’re irritated.

Lots of dark or red spots along your legs make them look less like the sleek, sexy goddess from a razor commercial you’d envisioned last time you shaved your legs and more like the seeds of a strawberry.

Strawberry legs can be caused by several different conditions and reduced in a variety of different ways. So if you’re looking down at your legs now with a frown, let’s chat about some ways to turn that upside down and give you the smooth, even skin you want!

What Causes Strawberry Legs?

A variety of different factors can cause strawberry legs. Before you approach treatment options, it’s important to get to the root of this fruity frustration. So what are the conditions that can cause strawberry legs?

1. Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common but super frustrating skin condition that can occur pretty much all over your body — but your legs are a really common location to develop it. As the name implies, folliculitis affects your skin follicles, generally by way of infection. We know “infection” can seem like a scary word, and of course, it’s important to keep your eye on anything that negatively impacts your body, health or self-esteem, but folliculitis generally isn’t dangerous.

When the hair follicle becomes inflamed due to blockage or irritation, a pustule or papule can form. There are several different types of folliculitis, which can be caused by surface irritation, fungal infections, or even some viruses, including herpes.

Generally, if irritation is mostly affecting your legs and shaving or waxing is a regular part of your routine, folliculitis is a pretty likely culprit. This could be because bacteria can get trapped in your follicles and create little bumps — hello, strawberry legs — or it can also simply be irritation commonly known as “razor bumps.” Sometimes razor bumps can open you up to infection, and that’s another form of folliculitis.

There are too many different types of folliculitis to fully explore here, and your best source on this front is a doctor or dermatologist. But folliculitis, in general, is a good place to start when exploring the potential causes of your strawberry legs.

2. Acne

You know her; you do not love her in any way: everybody's least favorite frequent visitor, acne, can visit your legs, too. While you tend to be more prone to acne when you’re a teenager, it can affect anybody at any time for reasons ranging from the environment to genetics. And it doesn’t, contrary to popular belief, only impact your face. You can get acne anywhere that you have pores to clog — yes, we know. Bummer.

Acne that affects your legs will look really similar to acne that appears anywhere else — it could be whiteheads, blackheads or just those all-too-familiar angry red marks. Acne could start or worsen on your legs due to hormones, excess oil, tight clothes, humidity, sweat or even certain medications.

3. Ingrown Hairs

Shaving or waxing can be great if smooth, sleek legs are a priority for you. But if you do it regularly and you’re finding more and more that the baby’s bum smoothness you’re after is interrupted by tiny bumps, it may be ingrown hairs that are the problem.

Ingrown hairs can be itchy and irritating, so you’ll probably be aware of them pretty quickly — they’re hard to ignore! They can look like bumps, blister-like pustules, darker skin patches or you might even be able to visually recognize them for what they are: hair trapped under the skin.

4. Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris has an easier name that may be more familiar: chicken skin! It’s basically when your hair follicles end up getting plugged by a buildup of dead skin cells. This creates rough patches of tiny bumps — these bumps may be the same color as the rest of your skin, or they could be red or even just darker. It’s most common on your thighs, and unlike ingrown hairs, it shouldn’t be itchy.

Keratosis Pilaris is largely genetic and is more common in people who also struggle with Eczema and dry skin. It isn’t harmful, though, even if it does eat away at your self-esteem.

How Can You Avoid Strawberry Legs?

If you don’t currently have strawberry legs and you’re looking at this article in horror, wondering how to keep them at bay… the short answer is that you can’t always.

First of all, sometimes things just happen — your skin has a bad reaction to something, or a bit of dirt or a virus sneaks in, and suddenly you have strawberry legs. It could also be due to a genetic factor like Keratosis Pilaris, in which case it isn’t much you can do to stop it from occurring.

There are, however, options for relieving strawberry legs. So if you implement some of these tactics into your routine, you could potentially reduce some of the more straightforward underlying causes before they get a chance to build up significantly enough to cause strawberry legs.

How Do You Improve the Look of Strawberry Legs?

If your legs look berry-like every time you try to pull out your short skirt, there are several things you can do to improve the appearance of strawberry legs. The first step is to figure out what’s causing your spots and dots in the first place. Seeing a trusted doctor or certified dermatologist is always going to be your first port of call!

While we can lay out some possible causes for you, and you can probably get a pretty good guess of what’s going on based on your symptoms, the only person you should truly trust with decisions about your health is a professional. Most likely, your strawberry legs aren’t symptomatic of a larger or more serious issue, but as with any sudden change you notice in your body, it’s always good to have a check-up.

However, there are some simple, at-home treatments you can pursue to help lessen the appearance of your strawberry legs. And a lot of these options may sound familiar to you if you’re a skincare maven already!

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re exfoliating your legs regularly. A simple exfoliating pouch to tuck your usual cleansing bar into will go a long way toward helping you slough off dead skin cells and give your pores and follicles their best chance to stay happy and healthy.

Another great way to reduce bumpy or uneven complexions is with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). AHAs encompass several ingredients commonly used in skincare, such as Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid and Malic Acid.

These are also known as chemical exfoliants, which helps by encouraging your skin to say, “out with the old, and in with the new.” Using a body treatment or serum after you shower all over your legs to help give the skin there a refresh is a great way to help lessen the appearance of strawberry legs.

Products that include Niacinamide are also great additions to your routine! Niacinamide is thought to improve hyperpigmentation’s appearance, be beneficial in regulating your skin’s oil production and potentially minimize redness or irritation. All of these effects are superheroes when it comes to curing strawberry legs. Working in a Niacinamide spray or serum into your post-shower routine can be a big help.

If you implement a serum or AHA into your strawberry leg improvement plan, there are two other things you’ll want to keep in mind. Make sure to apply sunscreen! AHAs can make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage. You’ll want a sunscreen that has oil control if you’re worried about clogged pores! It’s also crucial to moisturize generously when introducing new ingredients to your body, as they can be drying and irritating.

In Conclusion

Strawberry legs can be frustrating, especially when it feels like you’re doing everything possible to get the closest, smoothest shave. While pinpointing the cause of strawberry legs can be challenging because there are many possible culprits, and they present similarly, if you speak to a professional and are consistent with your treatment, we bet you can be back in your favorite mini dress in no time.

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager