Why do I itch when re-starting running?

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Andrew Marc

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Why do I itch when re-starting running?
« on: 27/11/2010 12:30:10 »
Andrew Marc  asked the Naked Scientists:

I am a student at Reykjavik University in Iceland, hoping to one day become a biomedical engineer. I enjoy listening to your show usually while take a long run. I had took a running break and recently started up again which usually means I must endure a couple of weeks of itching. While listen to one of your shows it dawn to me that I should ask you guys to demystify the "runners itch".

I have had this condition before moving to Iceland from the Bahamas, so it doesn't have anything to do with the cold. I have tried using different washing detergent, staying hydrated , and using plenty of lotion to keep my skin moisturise.

The best diagnosis I received said something like this "There are millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but when unfit and inactive they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch. That's why after a few sessions the sensation tends to go away. Just another indication of increasing fitness levels."

Is this correct?  And is there anyway to relieve runners itch besides having to run through it? I was told allergy pills and vitamin C may help.

Andrew Marc, Electrician

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 27/11/2010 12:30:10 by _system »


Offline RD

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Why do I itch when re-starting running?
« Reply #1 on: 13/12/2010 10:16:28 »
Maybe this ...

Exercise urticaria, sometimes mistaken as exercise allergy, itchy legs, itchy legs syndrome or itchy pants syndrome, is a form of urticaria that happens during exercise. It is characterized by itching, swelling or hives on the legs, arms, torso or neck during or after exercise.

Cholinergic urticaria is brought on by a physical stimulus. Although the physical stimulus might be considered to be sweat, the actual precipitating cause is increased body temperature. Lesions usually appear within a few minutes of sweating, and may last for 30 minutes to over an hour.