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why do your legs itch when you run

Youre on a run and in a nice groove. Your runners high kicks in and youve shed a couple seconds off your pace. Then all of a sudden pain slowly creeps up your legs, like tiny ants are marching up and down. One of the most common, overwhelming sensations a runner can experience is itchy legs. In fact, it can be so uncomfortablethat youve got to stop to scratch your legs. Weve all been there. Its anannoying situations that can haltyour run. And no matter how much you scratch, the itchy sensation doesnt seem to go away. Sigh. Unfortunately Coach Lora Erickson, owner of, has experienced the nuances of itchy legs. But thankfully for us, we were able to pick her brain about itand how to prevent the awful situation. What Causes A Runner s Legs To Itch?
Ladies, watch out if you happen to shower more than once a day. Too many showers can wash away some of the skins natural oils that keep it moist, leaving your skin and itchy. Dry air is another contributing factor, especially during the cold winter months. Also something to consider for women is non-shaved legs. A lot of women don t shave their legs in the winter, but that stubble can cause itchingespecially when wearing running tights, says Erickson. Some fabrics can also irritate the skin and wick away moisture, leaving the skin even dryer.


Laundry detergent may also be the culprit. Opt for sensitive skin detergent to avoid any irritation. Runners itch also seems to be more common in those who are getting back in shape. If youve taken some time off of running and are just getting back into it, you may also experience uncomfortable welts or rashes. I believe this is due to a change in capillaries action, often causing an itchy sensation. In severe cases exercise-induced urticarial can occur, resulting in hives or raised welts during exercising, shares Erickson. After a few work out sessions, your legs will get used to moving and the itch should subside. If you experience rashes or welts, after a week, you should speak with your doctor. Why Do Legs Tend To Itch More In Cold Weather? Cold weather usually has less humidity, which means dry air. As a coach, I see more dehydration in the winter because of the dry air. We lose most of our moisture through breathing and winter is rarely the time that we feel like. Replenishment is a struggle in the winter, leaving us in a dehydrated state, contributing to dry skin, says Erickson. What Can You Do To Prevent Itchiness? Erickson says there are plenty of steps you can do to prevent itchy legs. Stay hydrated.


Use moisturizing after showering. Consider changing your laundry detergent to something milder. Keep exercising to allow the body to adapt. Shave your legs! Yes, even in the winter. Although it might sound odd to talk about an allergy to cold temperatures or an allergy to exercise, these conditions do actually exist. In fact, these conditions are among the most common causes of itchy legs while running. As you run around town or on a treadmill, you might experience an itchy sensation spread across your legs. Although your itchy legs might be caused by the exercise itself, they might be caused by allergies. According to FamilyDoctor. org, exercise-induced urticaria is a condition that causes hives and other allergic symptoms. It can occur during or after exercise. The condition commonly appears during or immediately after vigorous exercise, such as running. The runner develops raised, red bumps on the skin (hives). As the hives spread, the skin looks red and blotchy and becomes extremely itchy. Although the condition is quite bothersome, it is not life-threatening. In fact, the symptoms of urticaria typically dissipate within 10 minutes of the end of your run. If you notice additional symptoms while running, you may have a more serious condition known as exercise-induced anaphylaxis.


In addition to the itching hives, runners with this condition might also experience difficulty breathing, vomiting and fainting. If you continue running despite these symptoms, the condition might block the flow of oxygen to your heart and brain, resulting in death. For some people, the condition is triggered simply by vigorous exercise. For others, the condition is triggered by a combination of exercise and a specific food. According to MSNBC, there have only been 1,000 documented cases of exercise-induced anaphylaxis between 1970 and 2008, with only one death occurring from those cases. If you only notice itchy legs while running in cooler temperatures, you might have a condition known as cold urticaria, or an allergy to cold temperatures. The symptoms of cold urticaria are quite similar to those of exercise-induced urticaria, including red, itchy hives that spread across the skin. If your hands are uncovered, you might also notice swelling in the hands. People with severe cases of urticaria might develop more serious symptoms, such as chills, racing heartbeat, swelling of the limbs and fainting. According to the Mayo Clinic, the exact cause of cold urticaria is still unclear, as of 2010. Some people simply have allergic reactions to cold temperatures.


In some cases, itchy legs while running might simply be caused by a lack of running. If you have not been running or exercising much lately, the capillaries in your legs collapse slightly. However, once you begin exercising again, your legs require an increased supply of blood. As the flow of circulation to this area increases, the capillaries in your legs must expand to allow for more blood flow. As these capillaries expand, the nerves surrounding them send itchy signals to the brain. Fortunately, these symptoms typically stop after a few days of regular running. Fortunately, exercise-induced anaphylaxis is the only life threatening cause of itchy legs while running. Allergies to exercise or cold temperatures are non-life threatening, except in very serious cases. However, to ensure your safety and comfort, there are certain techniques you can take to prevent itchy legs while running. Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes before and after your workout. If necessary, take short breaks throughout your run and allow your body to cool down and relax. If you are allergic to cold temperatures, dress in layers and cover any exposed areas of the skin while running. In the case of exercise-induced anaphylaxis, it might be necessary to adopt a less strenuous exercise, such as swimming.

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