Yes, it can happen. And if you have ever run out and started to feel like you it had to start scratching your feet, do not worry – you are not alone.
There is no official medical term for itchy feet while running, but it is commonly known as “runner itching,” according to Edward Laskowski, MD, a sports medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic. In addition to feeling generally uncomfortable, we wanted to know if all this itching meant anything, so Dr. Laskowski dissolved it.
Possible reason # 1: You’ve just started running (again or for the first time)
Dr Laskowski says there are two possible causes. The first has to do with how often you run. An exercised muscle requires more blood flow to get all that sweet, sweet oxygen. When you run, you activate these legs, so more blood is sent to your calves, quadriceps and thighs. When you are just starting a running routine or running for the first time in a long time, it can actually cause itching by increasing blood flow to your legs in a way your body is not used to.
“Your return to exercise can cause capillaries to dilate in the arteries in your legs,” says Dr. Laskowski. “This extension can put pressure on and irritate the small nerve roots in the skin and contribute to the itching.”
Once your muscles really develop more blood vessels to adjust to your new running routine and let the blood flow more easily, your body will receive the message that this amount of blood flow is normal and that the irritation should be reduced.
Possible reason # 2: You have an allergic reaction
The next reason is more external. You may have an allergic reaction to your clothes or detergent. Sweating can even worsen this response.
Dr. Laskowski says there is also a real condition called exercise-induced urticaria. In this case, your body reacts to the exercise. Symptoms of the condition include itching, as well as the development of urticaria and the “warmth” caused by exercise.
How to deal with itchy feet
Of course, knowing what can happen is only half the battle. What can you really do about it? Initially, you’ll want to rule out that your clothes are part of the problem, so try changing your running gear (ideally for something that removes sweat) and experimenting with a mild laundry detergent.
If it’s just the innovation of the running habit that causes the problem, time is your best friend. Once you become more accustomed to the activity, the symptoms should subside. If not, see your doctor or allergist for treatment, which may include the use of an antihistamine.
Meanwhile, Dr. Laskowski says that “a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to prevent runner itching and reduce its intensity.” If you feel itchy, slow down or you may be fine with a break until the next day.
Perhaps the most difficult of all, try not to scratch! It may provide temporary relief, but it will cause a chemical reaction in your brain that will eventually make the itching worse. Eek! Use ice cream or creams such as cortisone and aloe vera.
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