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Avatar universal

Itchy legs....help

About a month ago I started jogging/running. My problem is my legs start itching so bad that I have to stop. It starts at my ankles and then goes up my legs. My dh told me to start pushing through it and it will go away if I just keep going. So I did that today and it started going up my stomach, so I decided it was time to stop because it was just too much to handle, and I was afraid that my whole body would end up like that. I usually start out with a 5-10 min walk and then work my way up to running. After about 20 min of fast walking the itching starts. It doesn't matter if I'm outside or on my tredmill, wear shorts or loose pants. I have tried putting lotion w/ no purfume or anything in it before I exercise, but it's not working. I have also had my dh spray my legs with water to cool them off, but that isn't working either. I don't want to give this up, but I can't take this itching anymore. I walk and/or my tredmill everyday, sometimes several times a day, so I don't think just getting used to it is the problem. Does anybody have any idea how to make this stop? I will try anything!
232 Responses
Avatar universal
Benadryl lotion or the caps? Maybe it is only seasonal. Try walking instead of running. I like the stairs at the gym personally, my motto is I don't run unless someone is chasing me :)
Avatar universal
I have the same problem, too. It started years ago that when I had hadn't walked or run in a few days, the first day back would be really bad. But now, it's all the time. It's definitely worse after a few days of inactivity, but my legs itch every time I walk or run. I find if I go really slowly, it's not as bad, but I find they still itch even if I'm walking at 3.0 mph! I'm a personal trainer, too, and it's driving me crazy that I can only tolerate 10-15 mintues of walking!!! I've been doing some research, and some think it's dermatological, and some think it's circulatory-related. I don't know, but I'm dying.... It's so frustrating!!!
Avatar universal
The itchiness is related to a collapse of small capillaries from inactivity. When you start strenuous activity like running, the capillaries open up again but in the process it sends electrical impulses to the brain, which then reads the sensation as an "itch." It should  subside as you continue your  running.  Topical lotions won't help.

One reason why it's important to STAY in shape, as opposed to stopping and starting a vigorous exercise program.
Avatar universal
I have a similar problem (perhaps), but I don't feel like it's that easily solved.  I played collegiate athletics as well as intramurals, and I continue to play in leagues now that I have graduated.  I never work out outside of when I play.  Sometimes that will be months apart.  If I play a game (football, soccer, basketball) I NEVER have the itching problem and when I just go out an jog I always have it.  So, I don't feel like it's related to being out of shape, since I experienced this problem in college when I was in shape.  I suppose that sports just keeps my mind off of it, but I'd still like to know what "it" is.  Other possibilities?
Avatar universal
I've had this same problem since childhood.  It has nothing to do with circultaion or being out of shape like some people say.  The condition is called Exercise uticaria.  It is caused by a rise in body temp.  Check out the link below to learn more.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_urticaria
Avatar universal
I know exactly what you mean Nalla and ChattyCush!  I have always been an active individual and use to run a lot.  I gave up running a number of years ago now but have remained active.  Ever since I tried to start running again I suffer from intense itching to the point where I just cannot run any longer.  I definately didn't start off with a "vigorous exercise program".  I've tried to push myself thru this but only end up feeling overwhelmed by the itch, short of breath, head feels dizzy and faintish and I think I'm going to be sick.  I'm no where near my physical limits either when this happens. I've even tried just walking at a fast pace but it still happens.  I've tested every scenario I can think of and have concluded that weather, clothing, temperature, creams, dry skin, laundry detergent, medication, hydration...has nothing to do with it.  I'm really frustrated by this and must say the symptoms scare me a little.  I've read all sorts of stuff and the only thing that makes sense is a histamine response.  As I'm typing this my husband has decided he's going for a run!  How I would love to join him!!!  I'd love some answers/possible solutions if anyone has one.
1 Comments
Take an antihistamine before you run. I've had this problem my entire life. It does get better the more consistently I run, but the itch was so overwhelming that I couldn't even just enjoy the run. I think it's just running and oxygen related. It still happened when I was in top shape, it never happened when I ran indoors. Your story sounds exactly like mine. Tried everything under the sun then one day ran across a running blog and learned it's an allergic reaction. Took Claritin (children's dose) 15-30 min before I run and now no matter how long it's been since I last ran, no more itch OR its at least bearable/barely noticeable and I actually CAN run through it.. Light years away from how tortuous as it used to be. If I keep running consistently I notice it does eventually stop itching. BUT until then I Claritin up before I run outside.
Avatar universal
All I had to do was read on...thank you JulieP1981!  This makes the most sense.  Since I have no rash/hives and only systemic resposes, I'll be seeing my family physician for "classic exercise induced anaphylaxis".
Avatar universal
Thank you for the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_urticaria.  I visited the site and discovered that it was probably the pants I was wearing that day, to my body conditioning class.  The most probable cause was that the sweat interacting with the chemicals in the fabric caused an allergic response.  Maybe benadryl would help but just wearing plain cotton fleece I hope will solve the problem.
Avatar universal
OK, I'm 36, and I've had the same itchy leg problem since I was in elementary school. It only comes up when I walk or jog in COOL weather, not in the heat of Summer. It happened again this morning and I hate it! It can definitely drive someone completely insane! I'm not sold on the 'rise in body temperature' theory b/c I'm able to exercise when it's hot - and we also have a hot tub that has never given me a problem... I'm so tired of not knowing why!
Avatar universal
I have had this condition for years now, i am a 20 year old male and i am really suffering from this. I have never known what the heck this is so i have just called it itchy leg syndrome. I dont believe it has anything to do with the clothing i wear, it occurs when i wear shorts, pants, boxers, whatever. I generally get this when i start moving and heating up at work (im a valet), but it drives me crazy and nothing but time seems to help me. It can also appear under any heat circumstance but not in the shower. I hope we can find a solution to this because we really are suffering.
Avatar universal
I have just found the Couch Potato to 5k site and am anxious to start if it weren't for the inevitable itching.  I have been successful taking a small dose of benadryl 15-20 mins before I start my walk/run in the past.  I wish there was a more permanent solution, though.
Avatar universal
Wow. I thought I was the only one suffering from this! When I was a teenager I used to run a lot and never suffered from this. Now I'm in my 30's I suffer from itchy legs even when I walk briskly -  forget about running! My doctor wasn't any help. I too have tried wearing different fabrics, but it doesn't help. It happens no matter what the weather/temperature is, and starts up after about 20 mins. Very frustrating because I want to get running again. Any help would be appreciated.
407927 tn?1202336027
You have what's called Exercise - Induced Urticaria.
It's the body's allergic response upon exercising - Walking, Jogging, Running.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_urticaria

I get it running indoors or outdoors when the weather is 65 or below.
Apparently my body (legs) can only tolerate running in HOT weather.
412265 tn?1202368826
This is very common. The reason why you experiance this kind of itch is having to do with your muscels not being warmed up to the weather. You should try just being outside and stretching for a bit before you do your running and walking. Fabric has nothing to do with it. Body temp. is the main cause.
Avatar universal
i've just started going on regular walks. i've been experiencing the same sort of thing, but it's more like sort of pins and needles feeling, like little tiny mini explosions in my leg muscles. not painful, but just a weird sort of popping feeling... is this what you mean by itchy legs?
Avatar universal
i agree with barn babe, makes the most sense when you really think about it. i always thought I just had poor circulation, but really after years of high school and college running competition, even 3 or 4 days off would send my next run into itches.  Usually mine goes away after one or two runs, and it's especially bad in the winter (im assuming because the temp outside shriks the capillaries even further, and i run less :) ). So maybe its a combo of the temp and shrunken capillaries, and thats why it gets soooo red with itching. I definitely dont have any allergies, diet issues or even dry skin. i just have to motivate myself not to take that long off....
Avatar universal
OH my goodness!  It's such a relief to know I'm not the only one perplexed and frustrated by this crazy, intense, itching madness that occurs ONLY when I'm running or jogging on a treadmill at the gym!  I become so angry with the painful itching, because besides the terror of it physically speaking, it is also embarrassing to make the faces I'm making and to be scratching myself so much, that my skin looks like cat claws just tore me up ,in front of the entire gym.  I have actually gotten tears in my eyes from the discomfort, frustration, pain and sadness of the situation.  It can be hard enough just to drive to the gym and work out in overcrowded L.A., but to be tortured while doing it, is just excruciating!  I have tried the cotton, no detergent challenge. I have hydrated myself and streched out before.  I have started with lifting weights first.  Doesn't matter.  I still itch until I almost bleed.  I considered it to be nerves but would breathe deeply, listen to relaxing music on an ipod, and meditate on being tranquil.  Didn't work.  I started wondering if I have some rare dysfunction of my circulatory or nervous system.  I don't believe anything topical would help.  Like stacy (from this forum) says, I feel like it comes from below the skin.  The sensation could be equated to a cross between the tingling of pins and needles and the horror of having a thousand red ants wreaking havoc below your skin.  The irony is that i was a cross country runner and track runner in high school and didn't have the problem.  I'm in my mid thirties now and this just started a couple years ago.  True, I did stop running for over a decade and then attempted walking fast, then jogging, and then running again, out of nowhere.  But, I have not been inactive for ten years.  I've taken consistent dance lessons since adolescence and do not experience the problem when bellydancing or tango dancing.  I have done pilates for ten years and do not experience it then either.  What the heck?  I have stopped jogging and running and walking fast because of it....so sad to me!  Does anyone have an educated solution to this awful condition?  We need it!  And thank you to Nalla who started this conversation.  If only I had been running next to you at the gym...misery loves company!!!
Avatar universal
I started itching as a teenager walking fast, i would have to stop.  It is scary at times, i am now 41, and i've been walking and running on my treadmill, i thought it would only happen outside, because of the grass and pollen, but that's not the case, it doesn't matter where i exercise i still itch like crazy.  My husband thinks that i just use that as an excuse to stop exercising, but it really irritates me so i have to stop and start scratching.  I also thought it was because i had a hard time sweating, but that's not the case.  I'm glad i'm not the only one with this problem.  I'm not happy other people are going through the same thing, i'm just relieved that i'm not the only one.  That way my husband can't say it's all in my mind.  He's a health and fitness freak!!
Avatar universal
Hi, I have experienced this for a very long time. I remember rushing to classes in college and when I got there, itching myself like a crazy person. I always thought it was the cold, but today I walked on the treadmill and couldn't go past 13 minutes. I was bright red in the locker room scratching like mad! Do we have no solution? Will nobody help us??
Avatar universal
Hi all I am a senior at a University and I simply want to take a knife to my legs when they itch so bad. It happens when i get out of the shower sometimes, and it is only from the ankle to the knee, on both legs. the itching is so bad!!! Im sure you all feel me on this. I go tanning sometimes, and that seems to make it worse. Also I use creatine sometimes to enhance my workouts, and im not sure yet if that has a significant effect or not on the itching. Lotion only seems to make it worse though, and after awhile it seems to subside on its own. Are there any MD's on here or anything?? I need advice on how to prevent this itching on my legs from happening again!! Thanks guys. -itchy in oregon
Avatar universal
I just returned from a brisk walk and couldn't go my full distance due to itchy thighs! It about makes me insane as all of you have said. I am 54 and it just started about two years ago and is getting worse. It does feel like needles pricking under the skin and tiny ants crawling all over as one poster mentioned. It is the worst kind of itching I have ever had.

Someone please help -too itchy
Avatar universal
I have the itching that makes me want to blast my face off. Wikipedia is not a good source for information as it can be altered by anyone that feels they are qualified, so I wouldn't take the information that is posted in Wikipedia seriously. I think that I have found the answer for us all!!!!

http://www.physsportsmed.com/issues/2003/0603/sweeney.htm

I am going to try this and I will let you know.  :)

Avatar universal
Believe it or not.. i have the same problem..and i know this sounds crazy but something that i tried really worked for me..is when i work out or run on treadmill i wear 3 pairs of socks..it reduces the shock... you will still feel the sensation but it wont be unbearable..try it...see if it work for u...   :0)
Avatar universal
Hi itch54, how are you doing? Hope you might have seen a physician to get checked yourself? Given your symptoms of needle ***** sensation, I feel this is more of paresthesia - "Paresthesia or paraesthesia (in British English) is a sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness of a person's skin with no apparent long-term physical effect, more generally known as the feeling of pins and needles or of a limb being "asleep". You may go through this link for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paresthesia
It is always better to get evaluated by a neurologist and also by a dermatologist to rule out a serious cause. Get checked your blood sugar and blood pressure? Take care and share your thoughts.
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