Runners Itch – How to treat & Prevent it?- UPDATED 2022
If you have been running a lot lately and find yourself stopping mid-run to scratch an infuriating itch. You may be suffering from a runner’s itch.
If you find yourself feeling itchy now and then, it is generally nothing to worry about. However, if you are having to stop several times during your run, there may be a bigger issue at play.
In today’s article, we discuss the main causes of why you feel itchy while running and how you can prevent and even treat it.
So keep on reading to help stop that dreaded leg itch when running.
What Is A Runner Itch?
Many people think having an itch when running is normal. Generally, most people would be correct. However, if your itch burns or even feel slightly electrical, you may be suffering from runner’s itch.
Itching occurs when the nerve endings are activated. This is usually caused by temperature, injury, infection, or your immune system. So, when this happens, your proprioceptors (nerve endings) get stimulated, making you want to itch the surrounding area.
What happens next is amazing and why the human body is so advanced. Once you scratch the area, you interfere with the nerves stimulation, providing you immediate relief.
Even though most of the time itching can be annoying, there are times when it can be very uncomfortable. Because itching serves as a key sensory and protection role, the stronger the symptoms are, the bigger the sign is for abnormal physical condition.
So why is it called a runners itch? If what we feel is normal when you not running too?
What Are The Causes Of Runners Itch
There are many causes of feeling itch when running. So, we put a list together of the main causes of runners itch.
Starting Running Again
Feeling itchy while running is super common when starting running after a break, and extremely common within newbies.
When you increase your heart rate and the amount of oxygen heading to the muscles, your arteries and capillaries start to expand. This is process is called vasodilation. However, sometimes the body causes the brain to perceive this as itchiness.
As a runner, we spend a lot of time outdoors during summer, especially during our long runs. Because of this, it is common for runners to get dry skin after a run. It is also common during the winter months when you are constantly wrapped up.
Other factors like taking too many showers can take away important oils that keep the skin moist.
Either way, once your skin becomes dry, it sets the stage of itchiness, as the dry area can become irritated, which ends up leading to itchiness.
For some unlucky people, they have sensitive skin. This can be caused by the clothing they wear, the soap they used in the shower, or even the washing powder they cleaned their clothes with.
Irritating fabrics or clothing dermatitis is relatively common among runners and non-runners.
Dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to the dye, resin, or fibers in the clothing. Synthetic fibers such as rayon, polyester, spandex, nylon, and rubber and typically the material that causes the most problems for people.
However, you may not feel itchy walking around. But as you start to raise your heart rate and the nerve endings are activated, you may start to feel the symptoms increase.
Produced by the body and associated with itching, allergic reactions, and inflammation. It is a substance that is naturally produced by the body and helps expand your blood vessels, causing the brain to sometimes read it as a sign of itchiness.
Many studies have shown that exercise can cause the body to release histamine so it can help protect against fatigue.
So if you think this is the cause of your constant itches during your run, try to take an antihistamine before running. It may help to reduce the itchiness. However, it is important to know that antihistamines can cause drowsiness.
How to Treat An Itch?
As we have read above, a runner’s itch can be caused by many things, from irritating workout clothing to increased heart rate and histamine.
However, when it comes to treating runners itch, it might take a little trial and error as there are so many probable causes.
Luckily though will trying to find the best solution doesn’t mean you have to stop running. While you may need to reduce your mileage a bit, and it may affect your runs (stopping all the time), most people can continue running while seeing what works best.
– Avoid Skin Irritants
– Moisturize often
– Trial different clothing materials
– Apply a cold cloth to the affected area
– Use cooling agents such as Menthol or Calamine
– Use topical or oral antihistamines
Little things like using a natural detergent for clothes and a natural or mild soap when showering, can both help reduce the symptoms of itching.
Generally, if you experience itchiness while running, there is usually no cause for concern. It is far common than you think. However, if it does persist and happens more often than not, try some of our preventions above, alternatively talk to your local doctor.
It is especially important to consult your doctor if you suffer from any of these symptoms:
– Pain or burning sensation
– Breathing problems.
The doctor then can help find the root cause of your itchiness. Alternatively, you can also consult a dermatologist, who can check you for any skin-related disease.
So even though an itch can be annoying, for some people it can be more serious. So if you experience this a lot during a run, seek professional help.