17 Ways to Treat and Prevent "Strawberry Legs" According to Dermatologists

17 Ways to Treat and Prevent


While many of us are mostly concerned about keeping the skin on our faces bump-free, achieving the same silky-smooth results from the neck down may also be top of mind. Skin concerns such as keratosis pilaris (KP), body acne, and "strawberry legs" rank highly on the list, and thats because so many people experience pesky bumps all over their bodies.

In particular, strawberry legs are characterized by small dark or pink pots that run up and down the legs. While some may think those spots are hair follicles, dirt, or even blackheads, strawberry legs can actually be the result of clogged pores. Causes vary but include instances where shaven hairs are darker (and therefore, more visible) than the skin color, enlarged hair follicles, clogged pores, and KP shares Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Theres nothing to be ashamed of if youre experiencing the appearance of strawberry legs, but we acknowledge that theres a large group of people whod like to swap their dotted legs for smooth, even-toned limbs. So, we spoke to Dr. Murphy-Rose and licensed esthetician, Ali Tobia, to understand everything there is to know about the treatment, prevention, and causes of strawberry legs.

Dry-Brush Your Legs

Preventing strawberry legs starts a day or two before you shave with dry brushing. To help with the exfoliation process, gently brush your legs with a soft dry brush in circular motions before your bath or shower. Then, soak skin in warm water for five to 10 minutes before you shave—this helps draw out impurities and loosen dead skin cells trapped inside the pores.1We recommend the Joanna Vargas Ritual Brush ($30) as it has a detachable handle that allows the user to treat hard-to-reach areas— like your back— and have more control over areas such as the calf.

Buff Away Bumps with Physical Exfoliants

Dont forget to exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Regular exfoliation may help keep these dark pores at bay as do proper shaving methods, shaving tools, and a good skin care regimen. Its recommended that you exfoliate your legs regularly with a glove or body scrub that polishes away dead skin cells.

"Exfoliation can be very effective in preventing strawberry legs because it helps to soften the skin and loosen up the dirt and oil that’s already in your pores, which helps to prevent that dirt and oil from getting trapped in your pores when you shave," says Tobia. For some people, physical exfoliation can worsen strawberry legs. Youll want to discuss with your dermatologist and only use chemical exfoliants if applicable.

"If you are using a scrub to exfoliate, make sure to use a mild product, and use a gentle motion when you do the actual scrubbing," advises Tobia. "Sometimes we think that scrubbing harder cleans better, but the truth is that all it adds is irritation to the top layer of skin."

Apply Chemical Exfoliants

Exfoliation can also include chemical varieties, which Dr. Murphy-Rose says helps by "speeding up the shedding of dead skin cells...regular exfoliation will make someone less prone to clogged pores." Her favorite products contain AHAs and salicylic acid, "a beta-hydroxy acid that exfoliates dead skin cells to make it harder for pores to clog."

"Most acid-containing body washes, like Neutrogenas Body Clear Body Wash ($9), and lotions, like CeraVes SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin ($19), can be used one to two times daily," instructs Dr. Murphy-Rose. If youre sensitive to salicylic acid, she suggests products containing lactic acid or glycolic acid as an alternative. Tobia highly recommends Environs Body Essentia Derma-Lac Lotion ($72), which has "lactic acid in the formulation to exfoliate your skin without abrasives."

Key Ingredients

Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that loosens bonds between dead skin cells. It helps stimulate collagen production and acts as a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin.

Use a 2-in-1 Exfoliant

Instead of picking either a physical or chemical exfoliant, look for products that offer both benefits to streamline your routine. We love Sol de Janeiros Bom Dia Body Scrub ($42) as it combines powerful AHAs and BHAs with crushed maracuja seeds for a 360 exfoliating experience.

Moisturize Your Legs

Following exfoliation, you should always moisturize, emphasizes Dr. Murphy-Rose. "Keeping your skin well-hydrated will help dead skin cells to shed off naturally and appropriately," she explains. For those with dry skin, she recommends using products with rich moisturizers like shea butter and ceramides. She tells us, "Many swear by Gold Bonds Rough & Bumpy Skin ($10), which is great for dry skin and gentle enough to be used—and should be used—twice a day. Glytones KP Kit ($75) includes an AHA body wash and lotion. You can also try chemical peels at your board-certified dermatologist’s office.”

Shave With a Quality Razor

Since the appearance of dark pores might be because of your shaving technique, make sure you are properly shaving your legs and investing in quality products."A cheap, low-quality razor usually dulls much more quickly, gets nicks on the edge of the blade, and is often not as sharp to begin with," says Tobia. "What all of that means is that you’re more likely to repeat the same razor strokes multiple times, which inflames your skin and makes the clogged pores more visible due to surrounding redness."

Use a razor that provides a closer shavewithout forcing the hair to snap back and cause ingrown hairs. We recommend Billies Razor Starter Kit ($10) or Oui the Peoples Rose Gold Safety Razor ($85). And dont forget: Even before you shave, soak in warm (not hot) water to soften the hair on your legs and open up the pores.

Shave In the Direction of the Grain

To avoid strawberry legs, try shavingin the direction of hair growth. Avoid passing over the same area too many times, which will irritate the skin. Also, be careful not to stretch your skin tight while shaving. When done, Tobia adds, "Pat your legs dry—rubbing can irritate your skin—and apply a moisturizer or oil. This is a good idea whether you just shaved or not, but one bit of advice: If you’re using an oil, try to avoid coconut oil, which has some comedogenic properties."

Next, apply a fragrance-free cream, moisturizer, or lotion made for aftershave to reduce redness.

Use a Moisturizing Shaving Cream

While gel and cream may be standard when it comes to shaving products, Tobia tells us, "I use hair conditioner on my legs before shaving, which provides a clean, smooth shave with much less irritation because it softens the hair before shaving it and provides a thin layer of lubricant to the surface of the skin."

Regardless of what product you use to prep your legs before shaving, "Make sure to not get water on your legs while you’re shaving because that will rinse off whichever product before it can protect your skin from the razor," says Tobia. "I switch my showerhead off and just let the bathtub faucet run to rinse my blade, but if that’s not an option for you, just make sure that you’re out of the direct path of the shower."

Try Waxing

Waxing is one of the most common and effective hair removal techniques. Its also a viable solution for nipping strawberry legs in the bud. "Waxing removes the hair by the root so the hair follicle is completely removed whereas shaving just cuts the hair right at the edge of the skin’s surface. [It] also removes the dead top layer of dry skin along with the hair, which provides an exfoliation at the same time," says Tobia. "Over time, waxed hairs grow back softer and thinner, which can help you spread out the time between hair removal and minimize the strawberry legs effect."

When it comes to waxing, call a professional. "It’s a big project for a DIY amateur, and if you’re prone to irritation already, you may exacerbate that if you wax yourself improperly," Tobia says.

Get a TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel

If youre looking for an all-over brighter and more even skin tone, body peels might be your best bet. According to Tobia, "TCA multi-acid body peel contains a combination of salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, phytic acid, and TCA (trichloroacetic acid) that is powerful against clogged pores of the body."

"Apply a thin coat of product with a fan brush (or a cotton pad if you don’t have the brush) to clean dry skin. This peel does not need to be rinsed off," she says. "You will likely see smoother and brighter skin within one to two weeks of your first treatment and with continued weekly use the results will keep getting better as the appearance of pores continues to noticeably fade."

Apply a DIY Leg Mask

"You can also soothe your legs with a really simple DIY mask treatment," says Tobia. Heres her favorite one to DIY at home:

½ cup of chickpea flour½ cup of full-fat yogurt (organic if possible)2 tbsp of honey (organic if possible)Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemonWater (add 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture forms a thick paste)Spread the finished mask paste on your legs to coat your entire legs, and give yourself a gentle leg massage while applying. I apply this over my bathtub to avoid any sort of mess in the house.Let the mask remain on your legs for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water and a soft washcloth.

"Chickpea flour is a great exfoliating agent while the yogurt contains lactic acid to help dissolve dead skin cells. The honey provides an antibacterial and antimicrobial element, and the lemon has natural astringent properties, and it decreases oil on your skin and is an antifungal agent," explains Tobia.

Get Laser Hair Removal

Like waxing, laser hair removal aims to get rid of hair more completely than just at the skins surface, says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "Removing the hairs, to begin with, is an excellent way to prevent and treat the problem at its root (no pun intended)," she says. Techniques like sugaring, thermolysis, and depilatory creams also do this; however, the latter "is not always well-tolerated and may cause skin irritation so I do not generally recommend it," says Dr. Murphy-Rose.

Tobia is also a proponent of laser hair removal, especially since "if you have thick, coarse, curly hair (particularly dark hair), there’s a good chance that any kind of hair removal, including waxing, can lead to ingrown hairs and strawberry legs." She adds that in addition to removing hair effectively, laser hair removal helps to thin the hair that grows back, drastically reducing the opportunity for irritation.

Try Body Icing

Many dont realize that "using a frozen roller or another frozen object on your skin to soothe inflammation is a great way to treat redness and irritation on your body, too," says Tobia. She recommends Nicole Carolines Facial Ice Spheres ($48) "because you can freeze whatever formulation you want to create based on the condition you’re trying to treat."

For strawberry legs, she suggests "a mixture of water with pure aloe vera and a few drops of tea tree oil frozen in the sphere, which you then massage onto your legs after you shave or wax. This helps to soothe and hydrate your skin and keeps your pores clear."

Get Permanent Hair Removal With Electrolysis

Electrolysis uses localized electrical and chemical heat to disrupt hair growth (rather than laser hair removal, which uses laser heat). And while it does require multiple sessions to achieve the best results, studies show that the results are often really good, in terms of hair loss. Electrolysis is especially helpful for those with thick or coarse hair, as it works to remove it from the root.

That being said, not all strawberry legs are the result of hair follicles. Some are due to enlarged pores or keratosis pilaris. So its important to get to identify the cause of the problem before committing to a service like electrolysis.

Opt For Laser Therapy

Laser therapy can help remove dark, pigmented spots on the skin2—so it could potentially help with strawberry legs. IPL lasers, for instance, emit multiple wavelengths of high-intensity light, to target everything from hair follicles to pigment in the skin.

Remember, though, that lasers are like exfoliation— there can be too much of a good thing (too much and you can irritate your skin, leading to an entirely new problem). Lasers also dry out the skin, which can make strawberry legs more prominent. So if you do target pigment with lasers, be sure to moisturize after.

Use Vitamin C-Rich Body Care

In the same way that you use skincare products with vitamin C to brighten your face, take the same approach for your body. Apart from making your body appear more radiant, the antioxidants will also protect your skin against free radicals. Start in the shower by using Olays Vitamin C Hydrating Body Wash ($9.50) and following up with Natura Bissés C+C Body Cream ($120).

Routinely Wash Your Towels

Every time you use your towel to dry yourself post-shower, it picks up loose, wet skin and keeps it weaved within the cotton. If you dont continuously wash your towels, you run the risk of rubbing old, dead skin over your clean and open pores, which could lead to them getting clogged unkowingly.


Can you treat strawberry legs after you have them?

Prevention is key here, though applying a non-comedogenic moisturizing product (like a lotion or oil) may help ensure the problem doesnt get worse.

Are there professional (i.e. medical-grade treatments)?

Electrolysis will pinpoint irritated hair follicles, and therefore, prevent the recurrence of ingrown hairs. Laser therapy can also help, though it will require several treatments.3

What do I do if the problem seems to be getting worse?

Ingrown hairs or clogged pores should clear up on their own within a few days. If they dont, or if they start to scab or look worse, visit your dermatologist for a closer look.

12 Shaving Tips to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Article Sources

We takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Q&A: expert explains best way to handle your ingrown hair. Updated February 10, 2020.
  2. Sales AFS, Pandolfo IL, de Almeida Cruz M, et al. Intense pulsed light on skin rejuvenation: a systematic review. Arch Dermatol Res. 2021;10.1007/s00403-021-02283-2. doi:10.1007/s00403-021-02283-2
  3. Ogunbiyi A. Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment options. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019;12:241-247. doi:10.2147/CCID.S149250
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