Allergic to Exercise? Runner’s Itch Relief!

I didn’t know I had runner’s itch at first. It all started a few years ago when I was way into working out! I exercised probably 2-3 hours a day. I slowed all the way down since then, (for shame) but I do remember something really weird that started around that time. I was running in some hills in California. I had run up the hill and gone up and down some heavy terrain steps a few times and I was in the home stretch headed down a simple paved road back to my car. That’s when it happened! I had a little itch in my leg that soon became a big itch. I tried to keep running but literally had to stop and scratch. The itching had taken over my whole entire upper leg, booty and stomach. I stood there scratching for my life. My husband was embarrassed because he didn’t know what I was doing. I told him I was itching and he wanted me to just ignore it. I tried to explain that it couldn’t be ignored. The irritation was too great. It went from a simple itch to my body feeling so inflamed that I had to put my hands inside my pants to ravenously claw at myself.

My Legs After Scratching

My poor thigh after scratching my runner’s itch.

About my Case of Runner’s Itch

My personal case of runner’s itch will vary from other people because many describe different circumstances. I usually get the itching in the fattiest parts of my body- my thighs, butt, stomach, breast, and my triceps. I have never gotten it while lifting weights so it is purely about cardio for me. I have only gotten it while exercising outside so I thought that it was temperature related. (I have heard some mention that they got it while on a spinning bike at the gym too!) It is more apt to happen when it is cooler or normal temp than when it is a scorching hot day. It also usually happens when I am running downhill, so basically when I’m trying to go home. Well originally when it happened I did what any normal person with a health crisis would do. I googled it. Oddly enough me putting in the symptom of itching while exercising turned up some pretty sad news. Many others complained about it happening, but said that doctors tried to convince them it was in their heads. Only recently have I met someone that gave it a name and when I looked it up I finally got some validation.

What the heck is Runner’s Itch?

The clinical name for runners itch is urticaria. If you’re sure that your itching isn’t caused by a reaction to your detergent, lotion or clothing then you might have runner’s itch. So what is it exactly? Some sufferers think it to be temperature related like myself but most agree it is exercise related. It can be accompanied by hives but I’ve never had any visible signs of the condition. It has to do with capillaries expanding and shrinking and causing the allergic response. It can be brought on by just exercising (usually cardio), temperature changes, or being out of practice. A lot of people swear that it happens mostly when you take a break from working out and try to get back into a regimen. Personally, it happened to me right in the middle of one of my most intense workout streaks ever. I was working out for 2+ hours daily when it kicked in for me so it’s not always about slacking off.

How do you Treat Runner’s Itch

  • Wear Different Clothing
  • Wear clothing that is appropriate for the temperature.
    This can include moisture wicking clothes as well as wearing layers when it is cold.

  • Take A Break
  • I don’t mean the kind of break that caused it. I mean literally stop in your tracks and allow your heart rate to slow down and your temperature to cool off. I’ve found that once I cool down a little the itching subsides. Sadly it starts back if I start again so I usually have to walk home or to my car.

  • Try Antihistamines
  • Since it is essentially an allergic reaction, antihistamines can be very effective. You can take a Benadryl antihistamine Pills
    before working out to avoid the itch from happening. You could also try an antihistamine spray like Benadryl Itch Relief Spray for topical relief.

    Have you ever had an episode of unexplained itching while running or performing cardio? Was your experience similar to mine? Let me know down in the comments and don’t forget to share some of your remedies.

    *This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase products with my links I receive a small compensation.


    • Kim G February 5, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Wow, I’ve never heard of runners itch before. I suffer from pretty bad seasonal allergies and drinking tons of water and taking antihistamines really helps me out, especially when running outside.

      • Aisa Kemp February 5, 2018 at 5:18 pm

        Oh alright. So you are pretty much already covered with the antihistamines. It really sucks.

    • Kimberly Hatting February 5, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      I actually had a similar experience a few years ago after a half marathon. It was in October, and a cool & windy day so I doubt it was heat-related. But my legs itched after I had finished, and I scratched them a little and was left with huge red streaks and hives…and the more I scratched, the more they itched. It was so nasty! I surmised that it was from my nail polish (??), I have extremely sensitive skin, so I’m usually very careful about skin products….so the nail polish was the only culprit I could think of.

    • Nicole @ Fitful Focus February 5, 2018 at 1:46 pm

      I’ve never heard of this. How interesting! I hope all these tricks work for you!

    • TOni February 5, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I have never heard of this…..I do get it from the cold though…..

    • Coco February 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      I’ve heard of uticaria but didn’t know much about it. I hope you don’t get it again!

    • Deborah Brooks February 5, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Wow I have actually never heard of this either. Sounds really painful and annoying

    • Smitha @ FauxRunner February 5, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      I haven’t had it but have heard of it from a friend. Antihistamine and changing laundry detergent.

    • Angela February 5, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      That sounds annoying at the least! Hope it goes away eventually for you!

    • Anna @ Pipers Run February 6, 2018 at 3:19 am

      How frustrating this must have been! I’ve never heard of this either!

    • Jenn February 6, 2018 at 6:26 am

      I’ve never heard of this! I will have an itching reaction when i wear sunscreen and sweat, which brings about that same feeling of wanting to absolutely claw my own skin off, so I can just imagine how it feels for you. Ugh!

    • Clarinda February 6, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      I have never heard of this! I do get much itchier in the winter, though – but not at all related to exercise.

    • Kathryn @ Dancing to Running February 7, 2018 at 2:52 am

      I’ve never heard of runner’s itch before. I hope that all of tricks for treatment help prevent it from happening again.

    • Jessica February 8, 2018 at 5:43 am

      As an asthmatic, this is so interesting to me! I very often have to take my inhaler shortly after starting cardio and usually scratch my neck in the process.

    • Tiffany May 6, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      You and I are the same. No one use to believe me. My mom suffers from it as well. My friends thought I was just being lazy or making excuses to not work out. It is the worse experience ever! Just stopping and scratching uncontrollably! I just prep-H before jogging and it helps a lot.

      • Aisa Kemp May 6, 2018 at 8:53 pm

        Really? Prep H? I haven’t heard of that working. How did you come to test Prep H to see if it would work?


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