Q&A: Causes of balding legs?

Consumer Reports News: January 08, 2010 06:38 AM

I’m a 55-year-old man who’s losing hair in patches on my legs. Is there any disease that could cause that? —G.B., New York City

It’s possible, but usually the cause is unknown. Aside from various skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, which should be easy to spot, the most serious cause of leg-hair loss in men is peripheral artery disease (PAD), a clogging of the arteries that carry blood to the limbs. Your doctor can check for PAD by comparing the blood pressure at your arm with the pressure at your ankle. A far more common cause, though, is wearing elastic socks, which exert gentle but chronic pressure on the skin that, over time, can discourage hair growth. Beyond those causes, it’s anyone’s guess. Most men who begin losing leg hair are perfectly healthy. And a recent review found no evidence tying the loss to either chafing from pants— sometimes said to cause hair loss on the inner thighs—or normal male balding.

About 1 in 7 men over 55 have peripheral arterial disease. Find out how smoking and high cholesterol can put you at a higher risk  and learn about the best treatments  (subcribers only) for the condition.

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