Runners Itch! What causes those Itchy Legs?

Do you ever get that itchy feeling in your legs a mile or so into a run? You start with a small itch on your quad, then your other quad.  Next your calves itch.  Maybe your arms will get itchy or your abdomen starts to itch.  You can’t resist it so you scratch it.  Scratching it only makes you more itchy and then you notice your skin turning red.  If it’s really bad you may just need to stop to itch your legs.  It’s annoying, and uncomfortable! Not to mention embarrassing!

So what causes this? Inside of our bodies are major blood vessels and additionally smaller blood vessels called capillaries.  There are millions of these tiny passage ways in our muscles and bodies.  When we are too busy or lazy to hit the gym these capillaries collapse and there is a decrease in blood flow. When we get ourselves moving again and get to the gym or out for a run these capillaries begin to expand because of our rapid heart beat and faster blood flow.  As these capillaries begin to expand it causes nearby nerves to send signals to the brain.  Our brain interprets these signals as the need to itch.   As your fitness improves the sensation should dissipate because you are in better shape! Yep, you pretty much are feeling your body getting fitter!  Staying in shape and healthy is the best way to avoid this.  So once you get moving, keep yourself moving with regular workouts and you won’t have to experience the dreaded itch again.

There are other causes that can cause itching in some runners.  Factors like extreme cold or heat can cause this as well.  In the case of cold weather our body pumps more blood to our organs and less blood to our muscles in our legs and arms in order to keep us warm.  As a result your arms, hands, legs or feet can be cooler than your body.  As you warm up the blood flow will return to these extremities and can trigger the itching sensation.  Itching in warm weather is sometimes caused by exercise-induced vasculitis.   Also keep in mind those running tights or shorts or that shirt you love can irritate your skin when you workout causing itching.  Your lotion or other products can cause this as well.  Obviously if you experience a rash or any other symptoms like diarrhea, or nausea or signs of an allergic reaction you should contact your physician or seek medical attention.  As runners our bodies are our tools and vehicles to do what we love so I know your always checking in with yourself and will seek medical attention if needed!

I experience the Runner’s Itch, as I like to call it, every time I hit the pavement after a hiatus.  Even a week away from running will trigger this for me.  It’s frustrating and annoying but by now I know to expect it and don’t plan or expect much from my first run back.  I just get out and run and try to resist the need to itch my legs.  The next time I run it’s usually much better and I can expect more from my body and mind and the run itself.  It is always hard to get back to a routine and this hurdle can be hard.  Stay tough and get through it and as I said before…keep yourself moving if only a few days a week to avoid this in the future! In the winter I always try to dress warmly and avoid going from extreme colds to warmer indoor temperatures.  I feel it’s better to walk for a little bit and restore blood flow to my entire body post run and then head indoors for a warm shower and dry clothes.  In the end, this a small inconvenience  for all of the satisfaction you can get from running and working out!

Just a reminder, I’m not a doctor or in the medical field.  I’ve just learned this information from reading running magazines, articles and other information over the years and wanted to share.  My disclosure is here.

Do you experience the Runner’s Itch? Any tips you’ve picked up to help overcome it? Does it deter you from getting back to a workout routine?

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118 thoughts on “Runners Itch! What causes those Itchy Legs?

  1. Amal Rashad says:

    I disagree with your assessment. I’ve been working out for years, this feeling comes and goes for me. For some reason, it’s becoming more frequent even before I start to work out. I feel the itch sensation when I’m getting dressed, so I know it’s coming. It got so bad one morning, I had to try beastly which is what’s been working for me. I woke up
    This morning on my rest day and I feel the itch coming on. I had to take a Benadryl. Ugh

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  2. Cognitive Dissident says:

    I’m so glad I have found this article, I’ve suffered tremendously since my early teens with itching legs. This seems to be triggered by anything from mild embarrassment, clothing choices (synthetic fibres don’t seem to cause the problem, but have a marked potential to make things worse), rapid temperature change, spending too long in the bath, exercise etc.
    I know it’s not caused by periods of laziness then activity as I used to cycle every day to the point my legs looked like those of an Olympic cyclist. Itch relief creams (Eurex, Lanacane etc) make the problem exponentially worse. I’ve tried everything I can think of but am new to the idea of histamines playing a part – thanks everyone – I’m going to give that a try!
    I’m desperate to nail this once and for all and am constantly looking out for new possible solutions. I’m now 40 and simply cannot do any cardio or sustained exercise at all as the itching is so intense I’d literally scratch the skin off my legs – something I have done before and can testify to it not helping at all!
    Right, onto the positives… I hope this can be of help to someone, as the following have all helped me to some degree:
    1) Dry affected areas immediately and thoroughly after washing. I use one towel to soak up most of the water and a second fresh towel to finish drying. Try not to rub the skin hard. Also, rinse all trace of soap off the skin thoroughly with fresh water
    2) Hope’s creams (imported from Australia but widely available here in the U.K.) – about the only creams I have ever used that actually feel like they are soothing skin rather than aggravating it.
    3) Use less washing powder/conditioner. Most folks don’t get so dirty, so clothes don’t need enough detergent to degrease an old engine. If you’ve ever tried rinsing ALL the detergent out of a garment by hand, you’ll know how long it takes to get all that chemical crap out of the fibres. I use a mild, eco detergent and I use probably 1/6 of what they suggest.
    4) Air your clothes properly rather than continuous washing. If a garment is clean and smells fresh, don’t wash it so often. Unless it’s underwear or clothes you sweat while wearing, increasing the washing interval a little really doesn’t hurt.
    5) If any garment, lotion, food, material makes your skin feel at all uncomfortable or dry (even slightly) then avoid it.
    6) This has given me the best results so far: spray affected areas with diluted raw apple cider vinegar and allow to air dry. I tried this recently as it somehow felt worth a go so I’m not sure how it will work longer term, so far it’s possibly the best thing I’ve found to at least delay the onset of the dreaded itch. Reading into this online, ACV is known to be a really good natural skin toner. I mix mine in a spray bottle by eye, ensuring only that there is a bit more water than vinegar going into the bottle.
    7) Go live in the woods, away from all these chemicals and worldly pressures. Not practical for me right now, but doing so a few years back almost completely cleared up the problem after a month or so!

    My next approach is to try making a natural skin cream using lots of thyme. This may be a few months away or just around the corner. Again, this is purely based on intuition and my subsequent research suggests that thyme’s anti-histamine qualities may mean I’m on to something. I’ll keep you updated with any successes.

    Thanks again everyone who has taken the time to post here, the psychological support alone this offers is certainly helpful to me!

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  3. Gia says:

    When its been a while since I’ve moved by body in an expedited manner, I get itching. Legs, back, arms, even my face! 😦 But I’ve noticed that when I finally do start back, I have to do two things:

    1. Wear compression attire. I have a neoprene tank and shorts that I wear under my workout clothes that help reduce jiggle (which lessens the severity of the itching) and to help increase blood flow more quickly to those areas that will shorten the duration of the itching.
    2. Run where its warm. Cold air can cause the itching to be even more intense if you’re not careful… even in the summertime, I run indoors on a treadmill. But that reason is two fold– one for temperature and…
    3. Go where you can’t see things that will gross you out. Just like DOMINIQUE HAYWARD said, its even worse for me when I see certain things, textures, etc that would normally make me shutter. If I’m on the treadmill, I can stare at a solid, hard plastic surface and work through it.
    4. Don’t stop. When it feels its worse, you have to keep going. The entire situation may only last 20 minutes, and yes, it’ll be the LONGEST 20 MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE, but that 20 minutes will be SO worth it, especially if you’re starting a new exercise regimen. For me, I always run as a precursor to something else like taking a Zumba class (talk about jiggling!!) or even doing HIIT.
    5. After your run, wear loose clothing. Sometimes you can get “aftershock itching” even after everything is warmed up and you’ve stopped itching on your run. When I go into the lockeroom to change, I (first off, avoid anything in the locker room that will gross you out, like hair in the sink. Still HIGHLY sensitive to that stuff) I put on a t-shirt and a pair of loose-fitting workout pants to still allow the blood to flow freely.
    6. Be prepared for the next day. It is still VERY LIKELY that you may have some itching the next day, but be encouraged that it won’t be as intense. I still wear compression the next day… but slowly work my way out of it over time.

    Lets keep fighting the good fight!

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  4. Lori says:

    I have suffered with the itchy lef syndrome for so long (since a child) that I could tell you all about it but I do have some minor sultions.

    First, I’ve realized that the longer in between running or walking, the worse the itch becomes. I’m a marathoner so that, when I’m in training and simply have to get my runs in, I thank God there is no itch. But I am an adult with a job and a family and it’s difficult for me to run or walk regularly. I truly think that the blood simply becomes kind of stagnant over time and for me, if I don’t walk, run or exercise for a while, then it takes very little (like walking) for the itch to kick in and at such an intensity that I just want to pull my pants down in public and scratch myself bloody!

    One day though, I accidentally took a high dose of CoQ10. I thought I was taking the 100 milligrams but it was actually the 200 milligram pills. Well, I’d taken 3 just to have some energy for my run. I figured I was going to be in itch hell because it had been a while since I’d run or walked and was already anticipating the misery. As a side note, as I continue to run, the itching eventually subsides if I don’t scratch AND if I don’t stop. Unless I’m done for the day (I.e., ready to sit down on the couch), stopping to make the itch subside only makes it more intense when I would start up again. So I’ve learned to run through the misery. Then, if I don’t wait too long to run again (4 days in between tops) I don’t have to worry about my legs itching.

    So I accidentally took the CoQ10 and then went out for a run and, “Oh my God, no itching,” I couldn’t believe it. So I experimented again with a lower dosage (400 milligrams) and voilà! Anything less than that though and I run the risk of some itching, albeit still not as intense.

    Second thing: I bought a rebounder. For those of you not familiar with a rebounder, it’s a mini trampoline and it’s good for circulation and keeping the lymph flowing. I try to do 20 minutes at least 3x’s a week and Oh my God, it helps so much!

    These things aren’t a cure. Sometimes, if I slack off with rebounding and/or the CoQ10, the itch will come back with a fury. Basically, if I could run every four days or so (2x’s a www), I probably wouldn’t have this problem at all. But when I’m not training for a race, I can get lax or just busy with life stuff. Running twice a week should be easy especially given the misery when I don’t but I’m amazed that often, I only get runs in on the weekend which is just enough time for the dreaded itch to return!

    So COq10 (I would say, play around with the dosage) and rebounding. Or just running a few times a week. As for the CoQ10, I’m not a doctor so do your own research or experiment at your own risk. But these things have been such a blessing that I wanted to share what worked for me. I’ve also used niacin (the one that makes you flush) before a run. It helps — basically anything that gets your blood moving helps which is why ultimately, the running itself helps but mannnn it is pure misery getting through it without something to take the edge off.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kwame says:

    After a long break from jogging I also experience itchy legs. I’ve realized however that when I run on a treadmill, my legs don’t itch. Any reasons why?

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  6. Michael says:

    I’ve noticed that after eat acidic foods (for weeks/months) without exercise, the first few times exercising, my legs itch. Badly. Like beyond itchy. But I’m assuming this is due to:
    1) Poor dieting/Eating acidic foods
    2) Too much sugar
    3) Being a little overweight
    4) Lack of exercise

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  7. Ellie Kae says:

    My solution is to put on a good layer of body lotion before I go for a run or brisk walk. I live near the equator and it is really humid here so it has nothing to do with the cold or dry air for me.

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  8. Dominique Heyward says:

    Hi, I’m Dominique. I’m 20 and I’ve had this as far as I know, since elementary school. When I start walkingat a normal pace, usually to school. My feet start itching then my calves, thighs, and then any other place on my body that is moving at a steady pace. The itch is usually worse during cold weather. The itchiness is really bad, but along with it, I feel really nauseous and overwhelmed by my surroundings. I almost feel grossed out by grass or wet pavement and sewage. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences that when the itch comes along, but from reading here I suppose allergy medicine helps. I’ll try that. I really thought I was alone in this. My mom just always thought I needed to wear bigger clothes lol. But I see its a condition. Please comment if you feel the nausea too!

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      • eutawangel says:

        Dominique—” nauseous and overwhelmed by my surroundings. I almost feel grossed out by grass or wet pavement and sewage.” I prayed to Lord Jesus Christ for victory from that. I believe its just a response psychologically to your body itching…the brain stores memories of causes of itch which are usually environmental like dirt. So with the intense itching your mind retrieves what is traditionally a cause (external factor) & as you keep going is triggering ideas to make you avoid it. But of course its a circulation on a deep microcosmic level at work…not outside. Try telling/reminding self of that & when you see the stuff around identify it for just what it is…nothing more & nothing behind the itch. I highly recommend taking the steps Lori has suggested. The more you are warmed up by frequently bringing circulation to those areas…the better. Planet Fitness has a hydomassage bed use for 20 per month membership…sign up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • eutawangel says:

        p.s. Dominique—The hydro massage may do this esp. if you place it on highest level…then while on that bring it to slow moving level 1 or 2 while its at highest pressure as it really circulates in the muscles. But for me…I endure it until its done the last 5/10 minutes . Keep warmomg up using 3-5 days a week. Until…its better until no more Whatever the reason folks that experience itchy legs seem to have circulartoy issues & you must press thru the itch to have it resolved & your body better 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • pete says:

      This is the first time I’ve heard someone else experience this. When my itching begins everything around me appears to be disgusting and I just want to be inside. It’s interesting but it goes away after the itching stops. Must be a chemical reaction going on once the itching begins.

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    • Another says:

      Oh my goodness. I though I was crazy. So glad I’m not alone…yes. I feel that too. The itching causes my mood to change and I feel irritated and everything grosses me out…it HORRIBLE.

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    • Destiny says:

      I also experience the exact thing. I walk on a big college campus and I itch extremely bad and the colder the worse. I also feel really nauseous. I literally almost passed out my body felt extremely weak and uncomfortable. It was a horrible feeling.

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    • Ishi Crazz says:

      Hi, this is exactly me, I mean it feels so horrible, like someone is trying to attack my life. Grass makes me crazy, water, ANYTHING. the longer i go the worse it gets till I cannot bear it anymore. I drives me crazy, I really do hate it and people are just like “oh I get that too, you just need to run some more, but this thing seems like a monster!!

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  9. Sydney says:

    Thank you so much, everyone. I have suffered for probably 15-20 years. My sister has had it happen also but not as bad. I can mention it to a friend here & there and no one has ever known what I was talking about. I am 34, 5’8″ and 122 lbs. Very thin & ‘fit’ although I don’t exercise. Yesterday I walked/ran a 5k (1st one in a few years) and warmed up, stretched for 30 mins prior. Took off at a slow run, planning to just go till I needed to walk to catch my breath, run again, etc. Then it started. I walked till it lessened then tried to run a bit, it happened again. I only ran 3 times before I just walked fast for the remainder.
    It wasn’t only my thighs though. My buttocks itched intensely along with my ‘love handles’. The vibration part makes the most sense to me, since these other areas were affected.
    I will try taking an antihistamine next time though. There are a couple more 5ks I’d like to do this spring but have never been able to train to run bc of this problem.

    Like

    • Sydney says:

      I’d like to add that last year I was diagnosed with Reynaud’s after having some toe issues.
      I noticed that a couple of others mentioned this also. Wonder if it’s related?

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      • eutawangel says:

        Sydney— ” I’ am 34, 5’8″ and 122 lbs. Very thin & ‘fit’ although I don’t exercise. ” You are NOT ‘fit’. It has NOTHING to do with size…the fact that you “don’t exercise” is the real indicator of fit status. Fortunately for folks with our condition…our body reminds us through the itch (unlike others w/o this issue) from mico circulation. So, again follow Lori advice above…also stuff I shared in prior post on here. May God bless.

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      • eutawangel says:

        Just seeing the Rayunard condition. Some say it makes it worst 😦 Hope the antihistamines helped you.

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  10. nadene44 says:

    It’s actually called vibratory pruritis. Vibration causes a histamine release. Even people that are extremely fit have it. It has nothing to do with being out of shape or unconditioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nadene44 says:

      I forgot to mention I have this as well. It’s so severe that I feel anxious and nauseated. Definitely worse in the winter but the itch occurs when my legs are cold not when they are warming up. It does seem to occur less when I go for a daily walk…. It starts later in the walk though, maybe 20 mins vs 10.

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    • seyijohnson says:

      Hello All,
      Its a sigh of relief to find out that i am not the only one with such issues cause it makes u feel like an out cast. Well in my own case the itching starts when im running, jogging or even walking fast and i do not really think it has to do with cold temperature also because in this part of the world Africa the weather is not too cold and we have lots of sun too.
      The itching even occurs when i am on a bike that vibrates a lot and i think it has to do with histamine been produced in the body and the more the histamine the more the itch.
      Another cause from research is jock itch and athletes foot which are fungi and yeast infections according to research.
      This issue has really affected my workout as im a long distance runner but cant go long distance without having to stop along the way for every 10 minutes per square mile, i do not get the itch when i m doing other sports even while skipping for a long time.
      Hope we can find a final solution the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

    • eutawangel says:

      I believe it still has something to do with ‘circulatory shape’ on a microcosm scale…proven in that folks who don’t go as long in between their routines notice it’s absent (incl me). So…it plays a role. Also, I’d like to add your legs are ‘warming up’ when they are cold…to provide warmth to that portion of muscles 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Joy says:

    Thanks everyone for sharing your comments as I’ve never actually met anyone with the same problem. I’ve been experiencing this for years and also have bad circulation, i.e. Raynauds which intensifies the problem further. Yesterday I went for my first run in a couple of weeks. I went slow hoping a slower warm up would lessen the itching but it was the worst I’ve ever experienced to the point I could not continue. It eased a bit when I stopped but as soon as I ran it got worse. I felt physically sick, it was so unbearable to the point of tears. It doesn’t help having just returned from weeks in plus 30degs to a mere 4 😦
    It’s worse in cold temps and after 1-2 weeks off so I suggest starting out warm with enough layers and antihistamines which have helped me in the past, and keeping up some kind of activity to get the blood moving about your body. Hope this helps other!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. lisa says:

    I am 30 and this prevented me from running my entire life i dont get when biking or on an eliptical only running. Then one day I just decided to keep going and work past it walk when it becomes unbearable and start running again when its gone. It took about a week but it was gone. It ALWAYS kicks in at a half mile which sucks because I have run 8 miles only 9 months after i started running. I got pregnant with twins and am trying to start up again and its harder than I remember but it will soon pass I hope. Good luck to everyone! Just keep going 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Adam says:

    I have been getting this for about 10 years and I exercise everyday. When I exercise daily in the gym I don’t get this problem. If I go on a long walk I itch like mad. I will scratch myself red raw and it’s really quite distressing. There is no, don’t scratch it or it will get worse. I have to scratch it. The feeling it very very intense. I’d say worse than chicken pox or hives. I find this happens more in the late autum and winter and not so much the other seasons. So I guess for me it must be temperature related. I have not found a solution, but if I wear thick clothing like thick fleece lined trousers and a fleece jacket ontop of my normal walking stuff, it really isn’t as bad. You will get hot incredibly incredibly quick and this can be uncomfortable but at least there is hardly any itching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adam says:

      Another thing I noticed is that these posts seen to have all been posted in the autum and winter. Is this just coincidence or can I assume everyone else is ok in the summer? If you are the same as me then try the thick clothing and just regulate your hot temperature with your clothing to remain got but not uncomfortably so. Peace out!

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      • nadene44 says:

        It occurs in the summer for me as well but symptoms are more severe in the summer. It’s caused by histamine which is released with vibration. Not sure why this occurs but if done a lot of searching and found a medical journal that called it “vibratory pruritis”.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Crystal says:

    I am so glad I am not alone on this. I have had this problem since I can remember. I really think its an allergic reaction to pavement. I have been walking at the park on black asphalt and it makes my legs itch so bad. I tried the white sidewalk and it’s not to bad. I am going to try the antihistamines, so I can walk at the park again. I really think that will work. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories. I should have looked up this problem a long time ago. Now maybe I can actually go walking and not suffer.

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  15. lumwu says:

    When I workout, I get itchy, it seems, only where I have clothes on, as if my skin is irritated by the clothing against my skin. Well, I cannot very well workout naked. Also it doesn’t happen each time I workout, only occasionally. Doesn’t matter if I haven’t worked out in a while of not. Sometimes I get itchy just from walking the dog. I never know when it’s going to hit me. I find that when I do get itchy, I can apply cornstarch on the itchy areas and it will stop. I do carry around cornstarch in a travel bottle with me in my purse. It is very annoying!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Avery says:

    I’ve gotten this since I can remember and I am 40 now. For me, it is definitely not about the temperature or being out of shape. If I take my allergy medicine regularly, I am guaranteed not to get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yoty Topy says:

    God bless the internet.

    I didn’t think that I would get a feed back on this issue which has always puzzled me for years.I knew 100% that it has to do with being out of shape since I do a lot of on and off outdoor running. I just wasn’t sure what the medical explanation was and am I so glad I decided to put it to rest by ‘googling’ it.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Celestine says:

    Experienced a bout of itching this Saturday morning 8th of August 2015 as my wife suggested we go out for early jogging. It was so bad that we had to stop midway and trek the remaining distance back to the house. And as we did, I was itching all the way. It really was an embarrassing, dis-comforting and disgusting situation to go through. I know exercise is good for our health and well-being and would love to maintain a routine of it but the thought of itching when I go jogging now is almost nightmarish. I rather would stick to playing football on Saturday’s to keep fit as I usually don’t itch when I go playing soccer with my friends. It really has been enlightening reading everyone’s personal experiences here! Atleast there’s this psychological sigh of relief we all can heave knowing we are not alone on this. God bless you all for sharing and thanks to the originator of this article as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Tonya says:

    Wow!! this has been a mystery for me since I started running as a teenager and it only happens when I have not run or done brisk walk in like a month. Mine does subside after about 10 minutes. No one has been able to give me an answer to why this was happening. It has ruined my walks/run in the past but now I try to work through it. It last for only the first walk the next day I am fine. Glad I found this site, this explains it..

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Abbas says:

    I experience the runner’s itch whenever I spend 3 or more weeks without going for my routine weekend jogging exercise. I overcome it by resisting the urge to stop and it subsides within 5 to 10 minutes of continuous running. It does not recur in my subsequent exercises unless I take another long break of course. The first time it ever happened to me, I stopped running and walked home to scratch my body, only to endure a horrible 20 mins of intense body itching and scratching that I don’t cherish one bit.

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  21. raphael says:

    I experience this when I haven’t exercised for some time.the solution is this; STOP and scratch if you need to (its not a rash), Then SPRINT.sprint then walk,sprint then walk.all I am saying is instead of the slow jog Go hard, full energy.you can then continue with the slow jog. You will be amazed how effective you will find this when you try it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. David Sepel says:

    Hello, I’m an itchy too. It’s called pruritus and discovered that anemia can cause itchy skin, especially among athletes who develop low iron levels thru long endurance activities or weightlifting. There’s even a malady called footstrike anemia (hemolysis) among runners where the red blood cells are damaged by continual pounding of feet on the ground. Iron deficient anemia is cured by supplementing with iron but if in doubt have ferritin levels checked with a blood test.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. martisewilson says:

    I’m so happy to see all these reactions describing my everyday experience with working out. As far back as I can remember in middle school, we had a class trip where we walked to the movies. The movies was about 7 or 8 blocks from the school. All of a sudden after just a few blocks I began to itch. Once I started scratching it then began to burn. It was to the point where I didn’t know what was happening so I called my mom and I went home for the day. Now that I work out on a regular basis, I still experience this. I try to work through it but the itching just gets worse and worse and causes me to stop for about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes it will go away and I’ll start to work out again. This really slows me down. It really does the itching/burning thing when I’m on the treadmill at my local gym. My doctor looked at me like I was crazy when describing this to her. Thanks everyone for the tips! Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Sepel says:

      Hey there! You might want to check with your doctor after you search the term “iron deficient anemia.” I exercise a lot and had itchy skin and a blood test showed low iron levels. Started taking iron supplements along with vitamin C for better absorption and B-12.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. The Pardon says:

    Thank you for an awesome post!! I got my itch back after being lazy over the holidays. Last night I took magnesium and my iron supplements (vegetarian as well) and I’m hoping to try again today. I’m very fit but I’ve learned that this just goes away in due time, the first couple workouts are the worst. Keep pushing!

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  25. Onyike Henry C says:

    Feels better to stumble on this. Mystery solved. I have always felt It has got to be something with the blood supply but the fact the fact that it happens to me when I am riding a motorcycle got me confused. I couldn’t agree more with those who mentioned repetitive vibrations.

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  26. lisasavelli says:

    Reblogged this on Lisa Savelli and commented:
    After my run last night I felt the need to research why my legs Itch every time I run or do sprints. I always told myself it was fat melting but I wanted evidence and reassurance and thats where I stumbled across this amazing informative post! Thanks Live Run Love Yoga!

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  27. TT says:

    When I try to explain this itching sensation to my friends, they think I’m nuts! It happens to me all of the time & I only walk! I could be shopping or simply just strolling & I start itching. Don’t let me try to power walk, I end up on the brink of tears. It really demotivates me to the point I’d rather just use the elliptical when I can afford a gym membership.

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  28. DeeDee says:

    I noticed when I run with shirts my legs will itch more and faster due to the rubbing and heat opposed to wearing leggings or long pants this helps me a lot

    Like

  29. Mariah says:

    It’s great to know that I am not alone! Still sucks though, I’ll definitely have to try the antihistamines.. currently laying in bed after recovering from one of my worst outbreaks! Was way too ambitious and was pretty far from home before I couldn’t take it anymore. Broke into tears and had to walk a most uncomfortable 2 miles. Strangely for me, running indoors or at night doesn’t seem to cause any reaction. But once it starts (usually right after that first mile), nothing helps alleviate it, walking, sitting, stretching, seems to make it worse. So frustrating! I love running though so allergy meds dependency it is!

    Like

    • Lisa says:

      Hey Mariah,
      If the antihistamines don’t work, try what I do. Find a place, restaurant, cafe, diner…whatever, and go in and sit for a few minutes. Let your body calm down for about 5 minutes. If you need to, go to a bathroom and put your hands over your thighs, legs (two hands on one leg, then switch to the other–wherever the itch is) for about a minute or so. Then go back out. You may not be able to continue your run but the walk back won’t be as excruciating. At least that’s what works for me.

      Like

  30. Lisa says:

    When I was a young teenager I tried to go for a run one day, got “the itches” (as I called them), didn’t understand why it happened and decided running wasn’t for me (for exercise, that is). I used to be a professional dancer and never got them while dancing or working out in general. Never really got them when I ran for a bus or because I was late. Sometimes I would get them even when walking, which I couldn’t explain. I even got them walking in hot, humid weather, though most of the time it was when it was cold and clammy out. Today for the first time in a long time I actually tried to run for exercise again since I’ve been out of shape for a long while and got them pretty soon after I started. I noticed that the only things that soothes these are an immediate change in temperature (going inside when it’s cold, cold compresses when it’s hot), a complete stop to movement and putting your hands on your thighs (or wherever) until it calms down. I will try the antihistamine idea and if that doesn’t work, the iron supplements. Thanks everyone!

    Like

  31. Jo says:

    Thank you so much for explaining this. I started experiencing this in high school n now at 23 I still do. I’m in shape but I dread running because of this. It’d drive me insane to the point where I’d start crying. I’ll definitely try the antihistamine next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Ms2cute69 says:

    So so happy that I’m not the only one that suffers from this issue. I did a light run/walk today and I thought I was about to go crazy. I’ve suffered from this condition for years, but it only seems to flare up when I’m doing a light run/fast walk…it’s the worst..someone today saw me and suggested I use rubbing alcohol before I run, I will see if that works–the next time, but I will certainly give the antihistamine a try as well…I’m so glad I found this site. Thanks…

    Like

  33. Carla Rose says:

    I am far from inactive. I lift heavy weights at the gym and do HIIT most days out of the week without issues but when I go on long walks my legs start itching like crazy. I’m 35 and have experienced this since I was a teen when I used to go on long walks with my mother.

    I don’t know if this article explains it since it implies it happens when someone is inactive but at least I know I’m not alone!

    Like

  34. Chris says:

    I experience this as well and it is very irritating. I take Allegra 180 and that helps. Also, running on an empty stomach or after drinking coffee seems to help as well. I possibly have some food allergies that contribute as well.

    It’s the worst during the cold weather, which makes me think I may have Cold Urticaria or maybe Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis.

    Regardless, the Allegra + Not much food + A good warm-up/stretching to get my body used to the effects of exercising usually keeps the itching away. I hope this helps some of you out.

    Like

  35. Yongama says:

    I have had this for years. Even with just walking or driving on gravel road (vibration). Its so embarrassing. When I do cardio indoors I don’t experience it though. Today I had a different experience, as I was jogging my thighs, bums and legs started itching & I became nauseous so I quickly returned back home. As I got home I was very uncomfortable had short breath and it felt like my chest was tightening then I fainted. I had runners itch all my life but it was the first time this happened. Scary.

    Like

  36. justine carter says:

    This is by far THEE worse feeling ever!! Doctors cant figure out what the problem is, but it definitely has to do with blood vessel’s expanding , and adjusting to different temperatures (as a lot of you have stated). The best remedy to this problem is a Non Drowsy antihistamine. Works everytime!!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Candice says:

    SUCH a relief!!! This itching has been plagueing me for years… since my late teens!!! Nobody knows why or understands that it has the ability to drive you practically bonkers (and a few words ending in *cidal)! It happens to my mum and sister too, so i just thought it was a weird hereditary thing that i couldn’t do anything about. Did a 20km big walk today, and had less itch than usual, as a friend suddenly suggested i try an antihistamine after we started walking. My other friend walking with us actually had some with her (Thank God!!!). I was willing to try ANYTHING! The itch didn’t get quite as bad as usual, and within about 10min the itch was completely gone! They suggested I google itchy legs while running, and i found this site. SO appreciate it! Thank you.

    Like

  38. Dingo ding dong bell says:

    This is what i am having at the moment after only3 weeks hiatus from gym. I even itching myself when having sex…damn!!!!

    Like

  39. Rose Dauvin... says:

    well..I get really itchy if I walk on a warm day..it’s awful..feet..legs..arms..butt..waist..I get red spots all over and itch so bad..when I scratch it even gets worse..spreads into hives..don’t like this awful feeling…guess I’m not alone..could it be I’m allergic to my own sweat also?

    Like

  40. Chuks says:

    I always experience this itching when ever i start to run or may when am on a bike and the bike vibrates/ repetitive pounding. i dont experience such when i do other work outs like press-up, sit-ups, etc. but the second I begin to run again it happens: legs, butt, waist, arms). It is awful.

    Like

  41. Cate says:

    I run every 2 weeks and have been experiencing this rush, been worried coz I didn’t know why…..I stopped running and the itch subsided now am afraid to run again….

    Like

    • si says:

      Thanks for the post – problem answered. I have been a regular runner for all my adult life (20+) years and despite the odd itch in winter have never experienced anything like my most recnt run. I am in the final stages of recovering from a liver infection that has seen me off exercise for approx 6 weeks and today was my first run back. Despite being very gentle I experienced a crippling itch in my quads, then hamstrings and then buttocks that i had to itch… walking slowed it down and once recovered it went away and i thought it was prior unused parts of the body getting used to working again which it seems to have been. Clearly the strain is on my quads first and buttocks last!

      Like

  42. TJ says:

    Yes, this happens to me every time I’ve been too long without doing cardio! Even going to the gym regularly and lifting weights never prevents the strong itching sensation I get when attempting to run after not having done so in a while. It starts on my inner thighs, spreads to my outter leg and calf area and then to my abdomen and back. And scratching definitely makes it worst. Sometimes I can mentally push through it and it’ll go away if I don’t scratch it. However, it has ruined my run many of times. My only hang up about taking an antihistamine is that I don’t want my body to get used to that either. I usually have to suffer through a couple or more runs before this phenomena goes away. Glad to see I’m not alone. None of my friends ever understood this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill says:

      Hi! I have experienced runner’s itch for many years. I have found that if you take an allergy medication such as Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec etc it will prevent the runners itch. I end up taking this daily because I am on and off with running. I am a physician as well and the itching is due to histamine release with the exercise. Allergy medications help prevent the release of histamine so it really does work. So just today I thought, maybe I would do fine since I did not take my Zyrtec for a few days and guess what? I was itching like crazy by mile 1 and had to go home. I will plan just to continue taking my antihistamine on a regular basis. I tell people that I am allergic to running!!! Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marie says:

        My case of runner’s itch is even worst, I get bruised all over my inner thigh after. I’m scared that it’s something serious. I’m afraid to walk/run…. Any suggestions?

        Like

  43. David says:

    Great article, thanks. But, I exercise regularly (3 times a week). I run for two of those times. For some reason, I got that itchy feeling this morning and don’t know why. The past week, I had been running on the beach, so maybe because I was on pavement after running on sand? It was about 65 degrees F and humid this morning. Any ideas?

    Like

    • Lil Chez says:

      That’s what I was thinking too. Mine started at a time I was exercising daily (for hours). It was also at the end of my workout usually when I run and it was pavement. I’m thinking maybe the second theory fits better and the pavement if probably involved. My skin is always cold when I scratch it so I think temp plays a part definitely.

      Like

  44. Mykel Parks says:

    thank you so much, for the longest time i thought it was the lactic acid build up that caused runners itch. thank you for clarifying it for me

    Like

  45. BMS says:

    ah thank you I just got done running for the first time in 2 weeks cuz I banged my knee up pretty good and my legs started itching like crazy I thought I ran into some weird bugs! thank you for posting this really helped me and glad I am not alone 🙂

    Like

      • godblesschild says:

        Thanks for this information it has been bothering me for years. I decided to look it up on the internet today and it helps a lot.

        Like

      • godblesschild says:

        Thanks for this information it has been bothering me for years. I decided to look it up on the internet today and it helps a lot. My daughter decided to accompany me last week and had to return home because of the itching.

        Like

  46. Vicky H says:

    I have had it for years and finally was diagnosed a few years ago. It is sports induced or hot/cold urticaria or hives. I was prescribed Allegra 180. I now take the OTC Fexafenadine 180 from Walmart once a day everyday…I can tell when I have missed a dose for sure.

    Like

  47. Kristen Walsh MacKaye says:

    I’ve always had it, too…difference is it is only with RUNNING or any sort of vibration/ repetitive pounding (even hot tub jets or holding onto handle bars while biking over bumpy territory). I can be hitting the weights & even low impact aerobics every day, but the second I begin to run again it happens: legs, butt, waist, arms). It is awful.

    Like

    • vicky H says:

      Yeah I get it in the hot tub and on a bumpy bike ride as well. I take OTC Fexofenadine 10 every day to help. I can always tell within minutes if I forgot to take that pill. It’s part of my daily morning routine now to take it.

      Like

  48. Jeff says:

    Experienced this for years and found a solution on another blog. Solution: antihistamine! Take a couple of Benadryl or Claritin about an hour before your run. The suppresses the itch.

    Like

  49. faithful_runner says:

    Ever since I started training for a marathon, I’ve been experiencing itchy legs at night especially after long runs. It got so uncomfortable that it prevented me from sleeping. It was frustrating because the itch seemed to be internal rather than superficial so no amount of scratching or lotion could provide any relief. I cannot explain the science behind this and I’m not a medical professional, but taking an iron supplement seemed to make a world of difference. I am a vegetarian and prone to iron deficiency so this works well for my particular situation…

    Like

  50. alanjay1 says:

    I find that I really get the itches when I haven’t run in a really long time, it’s cold out, or I run after being particularly sedentary. I think it helps to warm up extra before running in any of these situations. When it strikes, it really ruins my run, though.

    Like

  51. Pingback: Love the Run! «

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