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After visiting a theme park, a person may sometimes find that they have a rash on their ankles and lower legs. Disney rash, which gets this nickname from the popular theme park, is actually exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV).

EIV is also known as:

  • golfer’s rash
  • hiker’s rash
  • runner’s rash

Some people refer to this skin condition as Disney rash due to the correlation between the condition and their visits to Disney World or Disneyland.

In this article, we discuss the symptoms and treatment of Disney rash. We also look at how a person can prevent it from occurring.

disney rash on the armShare on Pinterest
Prolonged exercise is a common cause of exercise-induced vasculitis.
Image credit: Rosser1954, 2018.

Vasculitis is a disorder involving inflammation of the blood vessels.

As the name suggests, EIV is vasculitis that is due to prolonged exercise, typically in hot weather.

Some common activities that can trigger EIV include:

  • walking
  • jogging and running, especially long distance running
  • hiking and climbing
  • step aerobics
  • bodybuilding
  • golf
  • swimming

Dermatologists think that EIV occurs when the temperature regulation mechanisms within the calf muscles break down.

Effectively, this means that the blood pumping around a person’s body does not quite make it back to the lower extremities, causing inflammation and other symptoms.

EIV is most common in females over 50 years of age.

Healthcare professionals can often misdiagnose EIV.

Symptoms of EIV appear on the lower legs and can include:

  • intense itching
  • stinging
  • burning pain
  • flushed skin (erythema) that looks like a rash
  • swelling (edema) of the ankle, lower leg, or both

Palpable purpura can also occur. These are red, purple, or brown spots that a person can feel when touching the affected area. They result from bleeding into the skin.

The rash can extend as high as the knees, but it is often absent in areas that have been compressed. For instance, if the cuff of a sock was applying pressure to an area of the leg, the rash might not be present there.

Disney rash will usually go away on its own after some time, typically persisting for approximately 1 week before spontaneously resolving itself.

If a person is experiencing EIV, they can take a few steps to manage the symptoms:

  • stopping the activity that caused the condition and resting
  • using compression stockings to help reduce discomfort and even speed up the healing
  • elevating the leg

Medications that may also help include:

  • antihistamines to help relieve itching
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to help relieve burning and itching
  • topical corticosteroids

To help prevent EIV from occurring, a person can do the following:

Wear compression stockings

Compression stockings can help reduce discomfort and speed up healing once someone has Disney rash. They might also help prevent EIV from occurring.

An older study found that skin symptoms were absent from areas that were compressed by socks.

A person can buy compression socks online here.

A person can buy compression stockings online here.

Elevate the legs

When a person gets back to their hotel after a long day of wandering around a theme park, they should elevate their legs.

Rest throughout the day

If a person is going to be taking part in prolonged exercise in hot weather, they should find time throughout the day to take a break and rest.

Wear light clothing

Wearing light, loose fitting clothing can help keep a person’s body temperature down.

One study suggests that wearing light clothes may help prevent skin lesions from occurring.

If a person is going to be out in the sun for extended periods, they should take other measures to stay well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these measures include the following:

Find an air-conditioned space

A person should find a place to rest in an air-conditioned space. Spending a few hours in a cool place can help the body stay cooler when a person goes back into the heat.

A person should also take a cool bath or shower.

Schedule outdoor activities

A person can limit their outdoor activities to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are generally cooler.

Wear sunscreen

The CDC state that sunburn can affect the body’s ability to cool down and cause dehydration.

A person should wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses for protection, as well as applying sunscreen.

It is important to wear sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and says “UVA/UAB protection” or “broad spectrum” on the label. A person should apply it 30 minutes before going out and reapply it according to the directions on the package.

A person can buy sunscreen online here.

Stay hydrated

A person should avoid hot, heavy meals and stay hydrated. The CDC state that a person should not wait until they feel thirsty to drink. However, if a person is taking water pills, they should consult a doctor about how much they should drink.

They should also avoid sugary or alcoholic beverages and very cold drinks.

Replace minerals and salts

When a person sweats, they lose salts and minerals from the body. A person can drink a sports drink to replace these electrolytes.

However, if a person has diabetes or high blood pressure or is on a low salt diet, they should consult a doctor.

Disney rash will typically resolve itself within 1 week without medical intervention.

However, if the symptoms do not go away within a week or get worse, a person should consult their doctor.

Disney rash is a nickname for exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV). It typically occurs when a person performs prolonged exercise, such as walking, golfing, or running, in hot temperatures.

Although it typically resolves by itself, a person can elevate the leg and take NSAIDS to help reduce the symptoms.

If a person is going to be out in hot weather, they should take preventive measures to protect their health.