If you’ve ever been told that you have “strawberry legs,” you might initially think someone was making a funny joke. After all, naming a skin occurrence after a fruit seems odd in its own right. And you might be wondering if it’s actually real and something you should worry or be concerned about.
First of all, strawberry legs are a real thing. It’s not an actual clinical condition but rather refers to the appearance of enlarged pores on your leg that can resemble the porous outer skin of a strawberry fruit.
Meet the experts
Nadir Qazi, D.O., a cosmetic dermatologist in Irvine, California
Mary Alice Mina, M.D., Atlanta-based dermatologist and Mohs surgeon
What are strawberry legs?
These enlarged pores and hair follicles on the legs often look quite similar to the strawberry seeds on the outside of this red fruit, and the overall effect can have a strawberry-like appearance. “Strawberry legs is not a medical condition, but rather a symptom typically caused by clogged pores, but it can also result from other skin conditions,” explains Nadir Qazi, D.O., a cosmetic dermatologist in Irvine, California. “The important thing to note is that strawberry legs are usually harmless, painless, and easy to fix at home or through a dermatologist.”
What causes strawberry legs?
Quintessential strawberry legs can be caused by a number of skin conditions. Here, dermatologists share the most common:
1. Clogged pores
Comedones (also known as blackheads), or clogged pores, are typically the reason for the strawberry leg appearance, explains Dr. Gazi. “These can occur from a variety of things, such as shaving dry or with a dull razor, which can irritate and break the skin, allowing dirt, oil, and bacteria to enter the pores and follicles,” he says. “When the mixture is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black, giving us that blackhead or seeded appearance.”
2. Ingrown hairs
Ingrown hairs are quite common and something you’ve probably experienced before, especially in areas where you frequently shave. They are caused by “a hair follicle that has grown inward rather than outward on the skin, which creates irritation at the point of re-entry into the skin,” explains Mary Alice Mina, M.D., Atlanta-based dermatologist and Mohs surgeon. “When this occurs with many hairs, it can give the appearance of strawberry legs, given the numerous raised papules on the skin.”
Folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicle, can be caused by several infectious agents, including yeast and bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus (the most common), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and gram-negative bacteria, explains Dr. Mina. “Treating the underlying infection is key to treating the appearance of strawberry legs,” she says.
4. Keratosis pilaris
Also known as “KP,” this common condition tends to crop up on the backs of arms and thighs, according to Dr. Mina. “This occurs when there is retention of skin cells (keratin) within the hair follicles,” she says. “Why some people develop this and not others is unknown. However, people more prone to eczema and dry skin appear to be especially prone to this.”
How to Treat Strawberry Legs
If you’re dealing with strawberry legs, you know how pesky their appearance can be. While the condition is harmless, it’s no surprise that you might be looking for a quick fix. Here, dermatologists share their best solutions for treating strawberry legs.
1. Get a new razor.
Switching out your razor and your shaving cream often can help avoid some of the skin conditions, like clogged pores, ingrown hairs, and folliculitis, that lead to strawberry legs in the first place. For the best shave, “you want a sharp, fresh razor as often as possible,” says Dr. Qazi.
2. Moisturize after showering.
The best time to moisturize your body, legs included, is directly after your shower, as this helps lock in the moisture for longer periods. Dr. Qazi suggests following up every shave and every shower with a moisturizing lotion to keep your skin more pliable.
3. Exfoliate at least once a week.
Dr. Qazi recommends exfoliating your skin at least once or twice a week to remove dead skin cells that can build up within your pores and prevent ingrown hairs as well as folliculitis. Keep a sugar scrub in the shower for a quick body polish.
4. Consider electrolysis or laser treatments.
“Electrolysis sends tiny electrical currents to the hair follicles to heal the irritation and stop the hair from growing,” Dr. Qazi says. “Laser hair removal is a popular option for people with lighter skin and darker hair as the contrast is more easily picked up by the lasers.” For both treatments, Dr. Qazi suggests seeking out the care of a board-certified and well-trained skincare professional.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician with over 20 years of experience in practice. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before using this recipe to determine what’s best for you.12