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Why Do I Itch When I Start Exercising?

Updated: Aug 28, 2023


You’ve made the decision to start exercising and now you’ve noticed that during your workout your legs are itching. No you’re not dirty or in need of a shower. In fact, if you took a shower directly before your jog it may be a contributing factor. The sensation you're experiencing is known as “runners itch”. Medically “Runners Itch” is referred to as “exercise-induced pruritus”. Knowing the correct term isn’t very helpful unless you can answer the question, why do I itch when I start exercising?


itchy legs from running
runners itch


The exact cause of this phenomenon isn't entirely clear, but there are a few theories about why itching occurs during workouts, particularly while running. When you're engaged in physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like running, your blood vessels dilate to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. This increased blood flow can cause a release of histamines in some people. Histamines are chemicals that your body releases as a response to allergens or irritation. When histamines are released in excess, they can cause the skin to itch. This is similar to what happens when you experience an allergic reaction that leads to itching.

Now that we know the underlined cause, let's talk about ways to lessen the discomfort of runner’s itch.

Certainly! "Runner's itch" refers to the itching sensation that some individuals experience during or after running or other forms of exercise. It's also known as "pruritus exercise-induced," and it can be quite discomforting. The exact cause of this phenomenon isn't entirely clear, but there are a few theories about why itching occurs during workouts, particularly while running.

When you're engaged in physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like running, your blood vessels dilate to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. This increased blood flow can cause a release of histamines in some people. Histamines are chemicals that your body releases as a response to allergens or irritation. When histamines are released in excess, they can cause the skin to itch. This is similar to what happens when you experience an allergic reaction that leads to itching.



Now, let's explore some ways to lessen the discomfort of runner's itch or itching during a workout:


1. Moisturize: Dry skin can exacerbate itching. Applying a good moisturizer before your run can create a protective barrier and reduce friction, which may help alleviate the itching sensation.


2. Choose the Right Clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics that reduce friction against your skin. Avoid clothing that might cause chafing, as this can worsen the itch.



3. Hydrate: Staying well-hydrated can help minimize the release of histamines. Drink water before, during, and after your workout to keep your body properly hydrated.



4. Gradual Warm-Up: Start your workout with a slow warm-up to gradually increase blood flow and prevent a sudden rush of histamines. This might help reduce the intensity of the itching sensation.



5. Avoid Hot Showers: Hot water can exacerbate itching. Opt for lukewarm water when showering after your workout. Also avoid soaps that will dry out your skin.





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