Partial or complete hair loss anywhere on the body could be symptomatic of a serious medical condition, or it may warrant nothing more than a change of wardrobe for a week or two. If you are experiencing sudden hair loss, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Significant hair loss of the extremities can be a symptom of peripheral vascular disease--a progressive narrowing of the arteries which, left untreated, can lead to gangrene, ruptured abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysms, transient ischemic attacks (TIA), also known as "mini-strokes" or even a stroke or heart attack. Other symptoms of peripheral vascular disease include a darkening or bluish tinge to the arms, legs or feet, skin lesions that will not heal, a limp when walking and pain in the toes or feet while resting. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately for evaluation.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Hair loss or slower than normal hair growth on your feet or legs can be a symptom of peripheral artery disease. Other symptoms include painful cramping in the calf, thigh or hip when climbing stairs or walking, numbness or coldness in one leg or foot, sores that do not heal on your feet or legs, weak pulse, slow-growing nails or shiny skin tone on the legs or feet. If you have any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor about treatment options and lifestyle changes that could ease the discomfort.
Hair loss in any part of the body, including on the legs, may be an indication of diabetes--a disease caused by the body's inability to properly regulate blood sugar. The disorder commonly occurs in conjunction with weight problems, poor circulation and an inactive lifestyle--all of which can contribute to hair loss when the blood flow to the hair follicles is limited. Other possible symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst or hunger, weight loss, tiredness and irritability. Type II diabetes can cause any of the symptoms already mentioned, as well as blurred vision, frequent infections, numbness or tingling sensations in the hands or feet, frequent gum, bladder or skin infections and skin injuries that take a long time to heal.
If you are suddenly losing hair anywhere on your body--including your legs--it could be due to an imbalance of hormones caused by a thyroid disorder, menopause, pregnancy, depression or extreme stress. Ask your doctor to perform a routine series of blood tests to determine the levels of hormone in your body. Depending on the outcome, he may suggest a lifestyle change, yoga or another relaxation technique, a change to your diet, synthetic thyroid hormones, estrogen replacement or other hormone-related therapy.
Certain types of dermatological conditions caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast can cause hair loss on the legs. When hair follicles become clogged with excess oil, flora or dead skin, hair growth becomes inhibited and may cease altogether. Treatment involves identifying the type of dermatitis and administering a cure to the skin. In some cases, the condition may persist for weeks, months or even years and may be resistant to medication. It is possible for the affected hair follicles to be too damaged to ever regrow hair.
Leg hair loss can be caused by a number of relatively benign conditions, including friction from pants, socks that are too tight, boots that are rubbing against a part of the leg or similar issues. If you think your clothing may be causing your hair loss, try adjusting it for several days to see if your leg hair returns. If not, you may wish to see a doctor to investigate the cause.
Food Allergies and Autoimmune Disorders
Hair loss, including on the leg, can be caused by an allergic reaction to food or an overactive autoimmune response to toxins such as pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals or food additives. Working with an allergist, nutritionist, dietitian or immunologist, you may be able to determine what is causing the condition through an elimination diet or by paying close attention to your body's reaction to your daily environment. Once the trigger is found, you may be able to heal your skin and regrow your leg hair by avoiding the allergen.