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Easy Ways to Prevent Itchy Legs When Running

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Experiencing itchy legs while running is a common issue. One of the most common causes is increased blood flow to the legs, which can stimulate nerve endings and cause itching. Another reason could be the reaction of your skin to sweat or the fabric of your running attire, potentially leading to a form of exercise-induced urticaria or chafing. Additionally, dry skin, especially in colder weather, can become itchy when you start to sweat and heat up during a run.

Is It Normal to Have the Runner’s Itch?

Yes, experiencing “runner’s itch” is quite normal, especially for individuals who are new to running or returning to exercise after a period of inactivity. It’s usually temporary and tends to decrease as your body gets accustomed to the activity.

Don’t give up on your exercise routine due to discomfort. There are ways to ease the itch if you are diligent about it. There are some great home remedies for runner’s itch we discuss below.

7 Reasons Your Legs Itch When You Exercise

  1. Allergic Response: Called exercise-induced urticaria, exercise can produce an allergic response that leads to hives, skin redness, itching, and other symptoms.
  2. Dry Skin: The medical term for dry skin is xerosis. If you have dry skin, you might end up with itchiness when you run or do other workouts. This can be especially true during cold weather. Find a good quality lotion to keep your skin hydrated and avoid chronic itching.
  3. Exercise-Induced AnaphylaxisAlthough this is a very rare disease, it is possible for someone to have allergies that flare up so severely during exercise that it causes difficulty breathing. Research shows that this typically is coupled with food allergies. Contact your healthcare provider if your exercise leads to itching and breathing issues.
  4. Folliculitis: This is an inflammation of the hair follicles that can be caused by sweating and friction from clothing during exercise, leading to an itchy rash.
  5. Increased Blood FlowReturning to a running routine can lead to itchy skin as running increases your heart rate and blood flow. As your capillaries and arteries expand, they stimulate the nerve cells, resulting in that itchy feeling that makes you crazy.
  6. Skin Sensitivity: Some people have very sensitive skin, and sweating during exercise can cause an itchy sensation. Try changing your laundry detergent to one made especially for sensitive skin.
  7. Sweat: Are you wearing a moisture-wicking material closest to your skin? Wearing cotton or other fabrics that soak in the sweat and trap it close to your skin can leave you with itchy skin.

Why Do Legs Itch When You Run in Cold Weather?

Cold weather often leads to dry skin because the air is less humid. When you run, the increased blood flow to your skin can exacerbate the dryness, causing itchiness.

In some cases, exposure to cold air can cause a painful, itching inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin, known as chilblains.

Running in synthetic clothing in dry, cold weather can generate static electricity, which can also cause skin irritation and itching.

Runner’s Itch: Quick Fixes

  • Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines can help ease that itching sensation.
  • Bath: Take a warm bath to relieve the itch. You should add some Epsom salts, baking soda, or oatmeal.
  • Chafe Prevention: Using lubricants such as Body Glide or Aquaphor, you can prevent chafing.
  • Clothing: Choose clothing appropriate to the weather and made of moisture-wicking materials.
  • Limit Sun: Avoiding sun exposure or limiting your exercise in direct sunlight can help with itching.
  • Numbing Sprays: There are sprays to help prevent itching during exercise.
  • Skin Care: Decide that you will be diligent about your skin care regimen, including washing, using sunscreen, and applying a good quality lotion. Be careful, however, as some thick lotions can trap allergens on your skin, worsening the situation.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can dry out your skin, so make sure you’re well-hydrated before and after your runs.

When Should You Be Concerned About Itchy Legs?

There are some times when you do need to be concerned about itches. If the itch worsens or causes hives, you may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Also, anytime you are itching and having difficulty breathing, that is a severe issue that requires medical attention.

If the itching is so severe you can’t stop scratching or scratch yourself to the point of raw skin, you should see a healthcare professional.

Some people have underlying skin conditions such as eczema, and running can exacerbate the condition. If your exercise regimen worsens your eczema, see your dermatologist.

Do Itchy Legs Mean Poor Circulation?

Itchy legs are not typically a direct symptom of poor circulation. While poor circulation can lead to various symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, or coldness in the extremities, itching is generally caused by other factors.

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