How to get rid of strawberry legs, a.k.a. those dark spots that make your skin look like the outside of—you guessed it— a strawberry, is a lot easier than one might think. But before you can even think of solutions on how to get clearer and smoother-looking skin, you have to understand what these dots are and how they came to be in the first place.
“[It’s] a term used to describe the appearance of dark pores or small black spots on the legs, resembling the seeds on a strawberry,” says board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Libby, MD. “While it’s not medically worrisome, it often serves as a cosmetic concern related to the visible dark spots or dots that give the skin a speckled appearance.”
Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, agrees and adds strawberry legs are often asymptomatic. Depending on what is causing these dark spots, she says they can be associated with itching, pain, or small rough bumps.
So while it’s not considered harmful, there are a couple of ways to prevent these black dots from popping up if their appearance bothers you. From causes to how to get rid of strawberry legs, Libby and Garshick break down everything you need to know below.
The causes of strawberry legs
Strawberry legs, says Libby, are mainly caused by the presence of three things: clogged hair follicles, ingrown hairs, or folliculitis. Garshick explains that clogged pores can occur when dead skin, oil, or debris oxidize inside the pores and turn dark, giving skin that strawberry skin appearance. Ingrown hairs (a.k.a. pseudofolliculitis) can result from waxing or shaving when the hair follicle becomes inflamed. Folliculitis refers to the bacterial or fungal infection of the hair follicle that can lead to redness or pustules centered around the hair follicle. This can also happen when the hair is in a state of friction, such as being trapped under tight leggings or during workouts. And while technically a different condition, strawberry legs are similar in appearance to keratosis pilaris, which she says is a condition when keratin or dead skin gets trapped in the hair follicle which can cause a rough bumpy texture that resembles chicken skin.
Both experts say that genetics might play a role in who is more prone to getting this skin condition, so it’s definitely something to consider. Libby explains that some people are predisposed to having darker, thicker hair that automatically makes them more prone to ingrown hairs or follicle blockages. Garshick agrees and adds that when dark or coarse hair is shaved, it can still leave behind a dark dot that appears visible since the hair is a darker color.
How to prevent them
To prevent strawberry legs, you have to adjust your body care routine. But they’re easy fixes to incorporate. Some of the best ways include the following:
Garshick says that regular exfoliation, chemical or physical, helps to prevent the buildup of dead skin, and prevents the pores from becoming clogged. Libby adds that looking at chemical exfoliants such as alpha- (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) will dissolve away dead skin cells and keep pores clear of any debris. “A product like First Aid Beauty’s KP Bump Eraser is my go-to recommendation for preventing and treating both strawberry legs and keratosis pilaris,” she says. “It gently exfoliates with mild pumice beads and glycolic and lactic acids to lift away dead skin cell layers and minimize clogged pores.”
When shaving, Libby says that you’ll want to use a moisturising shaving cream and use a sharp razor to prevent razor bumps. Garshick adds that it’s important to also shave in the direction of hair growth. Libby adds you can even consider alternative hair removal products, like depilatory creams, to reduce the risk of ingrown hairs.
Keeping skin moisturised
Hydration is key and using a gentle moisturising cream or lotion will have your skin feeling soft and smooth. “Keeping the skin well hydrated and moisturized [helps] avoid dryness that might exacerbate the condition,” says Libby. We like something like the CeraVe SA Cream with Salicylic Acid for Rough & Bumpy Skin as our go-to body lotion to keeping the skin’s surface smooth and clear and it’s suitable for all skin types.
Both experts say that dry brushing, the physical exfoliant that sloughs away dead skin cells, can be beneficial to keeping strawberry legs at bay. Garshick says it can prevent build-up and keep pores unclogged. You simply take a soft dry brush and brush in circular motions on dry skin before getting in the shower.
Already got strawberry legs? No problem. Libby says that the two most important things to keep in mind when treating them are unclogging pores and minimising ingrown hairs. This can be done in many ways, but she recommends focusing on proper shaving technique and considering in-office treatments.