The Itchy Runner

in All Posts

Did you miss the recap of Sunday’s triathlon? If so, you should definitely check it out HERE ! And here’s the video!


Lunch was easy – I just mixed a bunch of leftover together and TA-DA!  Out of the oven popped an incredible mini casserole.


I love mini casseroles because we can never polish off a huge casserole before it goes off. 


My casserole included:


  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans
  • Leftover vegetable fajitas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese


Easy, easy.  And delicious!


This morning, I took James on a 25-minute power walk.  I don’t like to do intense cardio after an equally intense race, but I do find it helpful to get out and get moving.  It reduces soreness all over!


James is now pooped.  🙂


Racevine Giveaway


I’ve written about the very cool website Racevine before – its a place where you can add your own review of races and read other people’s take on events, too.  Racevine is doing an incredible giveaway this week. You could win an entry into some pretty cool races and triathlons – check it out


The Itchy Runner


Help me solve the mystery of the itchy runner!


A reader named Sarah sent me the following e-mail.  She wrote, “I have a weird problem and I don’t know if you’ve heard of it… I googled it and found it’s a "real" thing but there are no real answers online.  I get really itchy all over when I push myself.  I’ve read it’s an allergic response but there’s no way I’m actually allergic to running, right?!!!  I’m not in super great shape yet so I think maybe it could be related to that?  It’s really frustrating because I know I can continue to run but I’m forced to take lots of walking breaks so the itching doesn’t get out of control.”


I asked her for some more info and she added, “I have two kinds of pants that I wear, both of them are "athletic" type, not cotton, but I’m not sure how high-tech they are or if they are just stretchy.  It usually starts getting itchy on my abdomen somewhere, typically on my back and then gets all over my booty and my thighs.  Sometimes the back of my arms get it too.  I don’t think it’s due to sweat because I get sweaty long before I it and I never get itchy unless I’m running.  Although I can’t say that I’ve really pushed myself so far doing other activities, except skiing and swimming.  My heart rate really gets going when I ski and I’ve never been itchy (thank gosh!) although I take breaks when I ski that are probably similar to the walk breaks I take when running.  I’ve done swimming sprint workouts and never get itchy there.  As far as whether I itch inside on the treadmill, it’s not much different, except it will happen faster outside I think.  I know I can keep it at bay if I reduce my intensity when it starts getting itchy but that’s really discouraging.  It will take forever to improve at this pace.”


Has anyone had this problem?  What are the solutions?  What’s an itchy runner to do!?



  • Evan Thomas March 15, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Dear lord that’s an odd problem. Can’t say I can help either, sorry 🙁 Though the hypochondriac that I am I’m sure I’ll be itching all over on my next run

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) March 15, 2010, 1:34 pm

    i have, but i’ve never found out exactly what the problem is. i feel like it’s because of my skin’s reaction to the dry air and the synthetic fibers on my workout clothes, so typically slathering on lotion before heading out for a workout helps a lot. good luck Sarah! hope this helps a little!

  • Marissa March 15, 2010, 1:35 pm

    This happens to my husband. He gets so itchy he has to stop running. I bought him unscented/fragrence free/etc body wash, lotion, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets. Since then he hasn’t had any itching.

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete March 15, 2010, 1:35 pm

    I wonder if it might be from the lotion that she wears and the reaction with toxins coming out of her skin while she works out. How long has this been going on with her? How weird! I think I would die if this happened to me! Good luck!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs March 15, 2010, 1:35 pm

    I’ve never heard of that problem – I occasionally get an itchy back but not that bad.Maybe she should try switching to all natural fabrics? Like maybe funky running fabrics are the problem? But tbh, I have NO idea! That sounds like such an annoying problem 🙁 I hope she finds an answer!

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story March 15, 2010, 1:37 pm

    How uncomfortable that must be! I would think maybe a talc or baby powder might help? I have no idea. Poor Sarah!

  • Joanne March 15, 2010, 1:40 pm

    I used to get food allergies which always began on my abdomen. They would itch and be blotcy. Does she eat anything to fuel her runs or harder workouts that she doesn’t eat any other time?

  • Sophie @ yumventures March 15, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Maybe its heat rash? It sounds awful! 🙁

  • Christie @ Honoring Health March 15, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Interesting problem, I’ve never heard of it before. I would vote that some sort of chemical reaction with your sweat/clothing/laundry soap is causing the itching but really, I have no clue. Good luck figuring it out!

  • Shayna @ Cuts and Curves March 15, 2010, 1:44 pm

    I love the mini casserole idea! I just bought individual casserole dishes thinking I’d use them for desserts, but a casserole would be fantastic! I should whip one up for dinner tonight. Thanks for the idea!

  • RhodeyGirl March 15, 2010, 1:44 pm

    I used to have extremely itchy legs after longer runs (5 miles+), but it stopped when I started moisturizing every time I get out of the shower.

    Our friends have the problem of their running pants FOAMING during runs in the rain. Turns out they use way too much laundry detergent.

    • Megan @ Eat.Scrap.Run March 15, 2010, 1:50 pm

      That is so funny about the foaming pants! I am sitting in a meeting at work and almost laughed out loud.

      • Allie March 15, 2010, 3:59 pm

        ha- i hand wash my running clothes and am a little heavy handed with the detergent…i have sudsed up in the rain a few times!

        • Brigid March 15, 2010, 4:35 pm

          that is hysterical! that is one thing that has never happened to me.

  • Carrie...On The Cheap March 15, 2010, 1:44 pm

    It’s a circulation problem. I used to get it right when I started working out. Once she starts walking/running more frequently, it will go away. It used to happen to me when I would even walk (I was pretty out of shape). It’s probably not sweat or allergies, but her circulation getting used to pumping all that blood. It will go away once her body adapts to the workout regime. 🙂

    • Becky March 15, 2010, 3:04 pm

      I have the itchy problem as well, but only when I run. When I use the elliptical, or really any other piece of workout equiptment, I am completly fine. But running on the treadmill or outdoors, I start itching. Do you think that is circulation too?

      • Cindy March 15, 2010, 3:25 pm

        I think it may be circulation, too. I used to get really itchy legs when I first started working out, especially when walking outside. I don’t have a problem with it anymore, but I have been working out now for five years. I don’t know if that helps, but I totally get it. It is soooo annoying!

      • Carrie...On The Cheap March 15, 2010, 3:35 pm

        Yes, it only happened to me when I walked or ran. Not during any other exercise. It will go away once you maintain a consistent running/walking program for several weeks/months. Keep at it and it will go away! 🙂

      • MaryAnn March 15, 2010, 9:18 pm

        I posted below, too, but just in case 🙂 I was told that when your foot strikes (walking and running), that’s when the mast cells release their histamine. So when you’re on an elliptical, that won’t happen.

  • Nicci@NiftyEats March 15, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Oh,I have the same problem. I found out it was the lotion, I was putting on my legs, right before I ran. Sometimes it would be my arms…it was indeed my fragrant lotion.

  • rebecca March 15, 2010, 1:45 pm

    my fiance is an itchy runner too!! i always thought he was making it up. for him, it happens when he is starting to get back in shape. i hope someone has an explaination!

  • Emily March 15, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I don’t run but if I power walk my legs get very red and itchy – I’m not sure why but after about 30 minutes it goes away.

    • Annie March 15, 2010, 8:07 pm

      I have the same problem when I walk or run.

  • Carrie...On The Cheap March 15, 2010, 1:45 pm

    And yep, I used to get it really, really bad in my abdomen and legs….sort of like she is explaining. 🙂

  • Jenny March 15, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I’ve never had that problem- I hope she’s okay and NOT allergic to running! That would be terrible…

    PS- What a delicious looking lunch!

  • Chera March 15, 2010, 1:45 pm

    My nose runs when I run, which is exercise induced rhinitis. It’s caused by excess histamine and can also cause itchiness and hives.

    If you search for exercise induced rhinitis you can find more information on it!

    • Kim March 15, 2010, 3:19 pm

      This is the same thing I was going to suggest. I sneeze constantly after I’ve really exerted myself – maybe 2-3 days straight at the most! It’s really annoying! I was thinking the itching can be attributed to your body’s release of antihistamines (sp?) after a hard workout. Once my body gets used to a certain amount of exertion, my nose is no longer irritated until I decide to kick it up another notch a few weeks later. Like you, this only happens when I run, not any other activity, and I’m a pretty athletic and active individual.

      • Kim March 15, 2010, 3:20 pm

        *I meant to say your body’s release of “histamines”, not antihistamines.

        • Liz March 15, 2010, 3:46 pm

          I HAVE THIS PROBLEM TOO! It even happens to me if I get in the shower and the water is really hot. I get red patches that are super itchy on my chest, abdomen, lower back, hips, and thighs. I asked my dermatologist about it, and Chera is right- it is your body’s reaction to histamines released when your body temperature goes up quickly. That would also be why it happens more outside, but doesn’t happen when you do a slightly lower intensity exercise like the elliptical.

          I haven’t really gotten it much lately, and I think I just focus on warming myself up slowly before really pushing myself. It also helps me if I work-out at a cooler time of day, because I get the hives really badly during the summer. My doc said I could take a benadryl before exercising for it, but I’ve never needed to. I’ve gotten so used to it now that if it happens I just ignore it or reduce my intensity if it’s really bothering me. Hope that helps! You could always talk to your derm about it if it’s interfering with your exercise routine!

        • mmclaughlin March 15, 2010, 5:51 pm

          I have this problem during the winter when I run outside – it’s cold out, and then I get so hot from running. When I stop, my legs are itching like crazy. It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but I also get it sometimes when I get in a REALLY hot shower too.

  • Lacey Q March 15, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I agree with Carrie…used to happen to me all the time, and it has something to do with circulation and blood moving around. I still have it occasionally, but used to get it all the time during running. It is definately an itchy burn, but not necessarily on the skin, but feels deeper.

  • Amy March 15, 2010, 1:46 pm

    Sounds like it could be a very minor case of “exercise urticaria”. I used to have this problem too and my doc said to take an antihistine before working out. Then, once I started working out regularly and my body got used to it, the problem went away on its own.

  • Maria March 15, 2010, 1:47 pm I glad she spoke up,because I have the same problem. I’ve always thought it was extremely odd, so I’ve never brought it up to anyone. But, as soon as I get a good stide going I start itching uncontrollably-even the parts of my skin that isn’t touching any fabric! It gets so bad that I have to stop running because it’s all over my body, and when it’s all said and done with I have huge welts!

    I’ve googled it also, but found no real solution or cause.

  • Anna March 15, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I have had that problem as well the itchiness is related to a collapse of small capillaries from inactivity. When you start strenuous activity like running, the capillaries open up again but in the process it sends electrical impulses to the brain, which then reads the sensation as an “itch.” It should subside as you continue your running. Topical lotions won’t help.


  • Matt March 15, 2010, 1:49 pm

    It is probably an allergic reaction to something outside or in the air.

  • Britt @ Runnerbelle March 15, 2010, 1:50 pm

    I know I have gotten itchy for a variety of reasons….primarily due to very cold weather which makes me itch and get hives. Another issue I have had was due to detergent with frangrance or dyes making me itch.

    But the one thing I have heard again and again about itchy legs when running is that isn’t your skin, its your capillaries. There are millions of tiny capillaries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but when unfit and inactive they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch. Usually this goes away as the runner improves fitness.

  • OurLittleAshley March 15, 2010, 1:50 pm

    It happens to me when it’s cold out! My thighs and tummy get so itchy!!

    And I’m on the thinner side -so I don’t think it has anything to do with size or how in shape you are.

  • Stephanie March 15, 2010, 1:51 pm

    As Carrie mentioned, it is a circulation problem. When your heart rate increases (during exercise) and your body is not used to it, it can be hard to get enough blood circulating especially to your further extremities.

    Most people get an “itchy” sensation in their quads/hamstrings, but abdomen and back are common also. It is almost like a tingling sensation, but presents as itchy also, it can be frightening if you don’t know what or why.

    The more you exercise it will start to go away, as your cardiovascular system will get used to regulating your blood flow during high intensity workouts.

    When it gets really bad, don’t completely stop or walk, your body needs to get used to the higher intensity. Instead, drop your pace to a slower jog, but keep the motion going. If it becomes truly painful then stop, but chances are it will start to subside once your heart rate levels off more.

    Hope it starts to fade soon!

  • Madeline - Greens and Jeans March 15, 2010, 1:51 pm

    A friend of mine had a problem like this! She started taking Benadryl before running and was itch free! Now, you probably don’t want to be popping pills every time you run, but it’s something to think about I guess

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing March 15, 2010, 1:52 pm

    It seems like some others have experienced the problem. I hope they can help her figure out a solution. I sometimes get itchy on my legs, but I’m pretty sure it’s just dry skin and synthetic fabrics.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg March 15, 2010, 1:53 pm

    Eek…that doesn’t sound like fun 🙁 Unfortunately, I got nothing in terms of ideas.

    Your casserole looks delicious! What a bowl of goodness!

  • Christie March 15, 2010, 1:55 pm

    Sometimes my back/thighs/legs/booty area itches some when I workout outside. I always just figured it was because it wasn’t used to jiggling so much. LOL

    For real though, I just started getting little patches of eczema this winter so I have to moisturize like a crazy person. My doc made me switch from cheap soap to Dove and good lotion too. Maybe that would help?

  • Kelly March 15, 2010, 1:57 pm

    Wow, what an awful uncomfortable problem! Looks like there are some good suggestions for her to try though. GOod luck!

  • Sarah W March 15, 2010, 1:59 pm

    I’ve had this happen to me a few times! It’s usually on my legs and it’s so awful I have to stop running and all I want to do is shower.

    I’ve never figured out the cause either. I’m in good shape, run often, and haven’t switched detergents or anything like that.

  • Lo-Jo March 15, 2010, 1:59 pm

    Ok, yes I get itchy on runs sometimes, but mine seems oddly to be related to water retention. I’m no scientist, but I sometimes feel like my skin itches when the layer under my skin is bloated and “jiggles”…it doesn’t seem to be “fat jiggle” (wow, I can’t believe I’m writing about jiggle)…because it’s only after high salt/fat/sugar meals. But it gets itchy and red. Maybe this is the same thing she’s talking about? Probably not. Maybe I’m just “puffy” 🙂

  • alli March 15, 2010, 2:00 pm

    mmmm…..that casserols looks good! where do you find those cute little bowls? i copied your veggie fajitas wraps yesterday and this casserole would be perfect for dinner tonight or tomorrow 🙂

    i hope itchy runner finds some relief! my husband is a landscaper and gets itchy sometimes, we switch detergent and dryer sheets when that happens.

    • Caitlin March 15, 2010, 2:01 pm

      they are just pyrex glass tuperware bowls 🙂 perfect size.

      • alli March 15, 2010, 2:02 pm

        whoa! super fast reply….thanks!!!!

  • laurie March 15, 2010, 2:00 pm

    i used to get that A LOT, my dr. (who is a runner) said it is a nuisance, but not dangerous, and it has to do with circulation. (it would be especially intense if I ran in the cold weather after being inside a warm house.)

    Gentle Naturals brand baby eczema cream is helpful–slather it on before your run/i have also used coconut oil. Both help manage the itch.


  • PinkSass March 15, 2010, 2:01 pm

    This should help for the itchy runner

  • Stephanie March 15, 2010, 2:02 pm

    I’ve had this! I heard that it was related to circulation and not warming your body up properly but who knows. I can say that it mostly happened when I first started running and it went away over time as I got in shape. Good luck!

  • laurie March 15, 2010, 2:03 pm

    one more thing–like the person above who commented–DOVE is an awesome soap to use–CETAPHIL is also great. If dry skin is contributing to the itch, take short showers that are not too hot, rinse the soap off quickly and moisturize often.

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething March 15, 2010, 2:04 pm

    I can’t help with the itchy runner thing but I love your casseroles-you are so creative in the kitchen!

  • Chelsea March 15, 2010, 2:05 pm

    I don’t have any solutions, but I just wanted to say that i have the SAME PROBLEM! i thought i was the only freak out there, lol! i usually get itchy all over my abdomen, hips & thighs. Sometimes I’ll even get raised little hives that stick around for a day or so. This happens ONLY when I run. When I do other cardio, such as my 1.5 hr dance class when I’m sweating like a maniac, I never get itchy. Only running outside. So weird. I might try some of these suggestions on my next run! Good luck, Sarah!

    • Becky March 15, 2010, 3:09 pm

      Me too! I exercise almost every day, so I was pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with being out of shape, but it is so strange that it is only when running for so many of us!

  • Shellybean March 15, 2010, 2:06 pm

    This happened to me the other day- It wasn’t so uncomfortable that I stopped running though and it went away after about 5 minutes (or I stopped noticing it, one of the two). I hadn’t run in a couple of months and I just wrote it off as a weird thing my body was doing in reaction to the shock of running and it hasn’t happened since…
    I do have really really sensitive skin and already use no lotion, and unscented soap and laundry detergent.
    But the commenters saying it is related to circulation makes a lot of sense to me, it did seem to happen once my blood got nice and flowing.
    I think the best thing the Sarah can do is take a benadryl before her run and see if that helps. If it doesn’t then she can rule out an allergic reaction at least.
    Also, I think she can still get better if she pushes to the point of itchiness, calms down, then does it again- kind of like interval training. Hopefully her itch threshhold will increase over time.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday March 15, 2010, 2:15 pm

    that’s a bizarre condition.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet March 15, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I get the same thing happen to me – and I have worked out for 10+ years. I figured it was just because I have super sensitive skin.

  • Kristin P. March 15, 2010, 2:21 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one! I sometimes get it on my stomach and upper legs (when I’m wearing shorts), so I tend to think its the blood flowing and doesn’t have anything to do with fabric. Its so annoying!!

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) March 15, 2010, 2:22 pm

    James is so handsome.
    That hasn’t ever happened to me, but I’ve heard of it happening to other people who have said it’s due to circulation problems. That was interesting reading everyone’s experieces with it here though.
    Love how your posts always get the conversation goin 🙂

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) March 15, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I used to get itchy but no more. I don’t know what is different so I’m no help.

    But I love the look on James face 🙂

  • Mary Collette March 15, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Getting itchy when you run is in correlation to expanding capillaries. If you haven’t worked out for extended periods of time before or new to running, your capillaries aren’t used to that much blood being pumped faster through your veins. As your capillaries expand (which is a good thing!)you get that itching sensation. It should go away the more you exercise. One other culprit could be allergy related. If you have environmental allergies, exercising can increase histamine production. Take an over the counter anti-histamine like claritin and you will see improvement!

  • Kaye March 15, 2010, 2:24 pm

    This happens to me too! Only when I run outside, so I’ve just been inclined to believe it’s a combo of wind, friction and goosebumps! Once my circulation goes back to normal and I shower and all that, it usually goes back to normal!


  • Theresa March 15, 2010, 2:26 pm

    I have had this problem in the past too. Usually on my abdomen and quads. My mom, a long time runner, said that it has to do with blood flow/circulation, as mentioned also by Stephanie. I have noticed that this stops as I get in better shape, and if I take time off from running or daily exercise it comes back. I hope that helps, I guess just keep moving 🙂

  • Katie March 15, 2010, 2:27 pm

    It’s to do with histamine release! x

  • Kelley March 15, 2010, 2:29 pm

    Hi! My legs ALWAYS get itchy when I run! I think it happens when your muscles get tiny tears in the fibers. I always feel like I have spiders crawling on my legs, it’s really annoying. Try to get a deep stretch after you warm up, eat bananas, and make sure you aren’t anemic. I think my low-iron also has something to do with it. Good luck! I sympathize!

  • Alison March 15, 2010, 2:29 pm

    I unfortunately have nothing insightful to say besides I used to crossfit with a girl that had this problem. She was insanely in shape (we are talking like 20 pull up max) but could not do cardio without getting so itchy she could hardly stand it. The best anyone could tell her was that it was not anything to do with her skin but rather circulation. I was thinking maybe a CoQ10 supplement might help? This is only the second time I’ve heard of this!

  • Lindsey March 15, 2010, 2:32 pm

    I would tell her to drink more water. A lot of times the dehydration is what is causing the itching.

  • Leah @ L4L March 15, 2010, 2:36 pm

    I have the same problem. My Icelandic roots prevent me from sweating also, and I get instantly red when I exercise, and my thighs get really itchy. Not sure how to fix it. I just deal with it by … erm… not exercising. LOL.

  • Wendy March 15, 2010, 2:38 pm

    I don’t have that problem, but a good friend of mine did. Her doctor told her it was an allergic reaction of some sort, and suggested taking an antihistamine, as several other commenters have suggested. I think she was also told comression clothing helps, too. Good luck to Sarah!

  • Mae March 15, 2010, 2:38 pm

    Yes! and I’ve noticed it’s when I’m out of shape it happens. I bet it has something to do with muscles tearing…. not sure exactly what though!

  • Danielle March 15, 2010, 2:45 pm

    yep, it’s circulation – just blood vessels constricting. i used to have it as well, just gotta push through it really.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople March 15, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I had to start moisturizing a lot more often (especially in winter) in order to stop having this problem. But it wasn’t just when I ran, it was all the time, so I don’t know if it is the same thing.

    Cute casserole! Sounds good. Oh and I agree about getting back out there, seems to reduce soreness.

  • Christine March 15, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I occasionally get the itchy feeling but it isn’t as serious as hers. For me it tends to pass …

    Like someone else said, maybe try using dye-free and fragrant-free detergent, etc?

    BTW, Caitlin, I am excited to hear you speak at UF for Operation Beautiful. I’m a student at UF and I am glad that our Women’s History Month is bringing you to speak. =D

    • Caitlin March 15, 2010, 2:59 pm

      thanks! please come up and say hi!

  • Oxidaisy March 15, 2010, 3:00 pm

    Do you have any allergies that make your skin itch, Sarah? I have a friend who gets these huge bumps on her skin because of some allergy. They still have not figured out what she is allergic for. But she told me once that she has it with certain types of high intensity workouts as well.
    If you don’t have allergies that make your skin itch, then I agree with the others that it is probably the blood vessels.

  • Erica March 15, 2010, 3:01 pm

    I get really itchy when a lot of blood comes to the surface of my skin, and I can tell because my skin turns bright red, then I start itching. It generally happens when I am running in the cold or am really pushing myself. It’s like a burning itch. I think it’s from the heat of the blood coming to the surface, it may not be an irritant at all, especially if you aren’t allergic to things when you aren’t running.

  • Lee March 15, 2010, 3:07 pm

    I have that itchy problem ocassionally. I think it’s called exercise Urticaria. I’ve heard that taking Benadryl before running can help. It hasn’t happened to me in a long time, knock on wood, but it was horrible when it did.

  • adrianna March 15, 2010, 3:18 pm

    this may or may not have anything to do w/ it, but it sounds like temperature-change hives. there was a time when i broke into itchy hives every time i stepped in the shower, and they proceeded to last 1-2 hours after i got out! my sis (a PA) suggested it may have been hot/cold hives.

    maybe try taking an antihistamine tablet before runs, see if it helps??

  • Bridgette March 15, 2010, 3:18 pm

    I’ve had that problem and it is caused by a histamine release. I read about it a few years back in Runners World. I would take a couple of benadryl or any other anti-histamine before my runs and it makes a difference. You should also check with an allergist.

  • Sarah "The Itchy Runner" March 15, 2010, 3:28 pm

    THANKS EVERYONE! It’s really nice to know I’m not alone. I think it must have something to do with the capillaries thing. It really only happens when I run. I’m going to try lots of your suggestions and see how it goes! So many times in my life I’ve just quit and quietly tell myself I’m just allergic to running, but not this time! So if you see someone running down the street, frantically scratching all over, no laughing! LOL

  • jessica g March 15, 2010, 3:37 pm

    i have a friend that is extremely temperature sensative. she breaks out into hives and begins to swell when her body gets really cold or really warm too quickly. Yours may not be nearly as severe.

  • Laura Georgina March 15, 2010, 3:37 pm

    Eek, sounds like circulation-related itch and possibly some histamine reaction? I get itchy midway through my run from my sweat (ew, so gross to admit to it–I have to shower right away or my skin feels like it’s on fire) and I also get a slightly runny nose sometimes too, so I feel your pain, Sarah 🙁

  • Nicole, RD March 15, 2010, 3:43 pm

    I’ve never heard of such a thing, but it sounds like there’s some great ideas. I hope she finds some relief soon!

  • Rebecca March 15, 2010, 3:50 pm

    I have no solution, but I have this problem! I only get it when I run (as opposed to other exercise), which I always do outside, so I thought that might be it. I have it mainly in my legs, and it is really annoying! Unfortunately, it’s not a fabric issue for me because I get it even when I wear shorts. My bet is on circulation. I’m in shape, but I have poor circulation overall. Otherwise, I have no idea!

  • Monica (Musings of the Granola Girl) March 15, 2010, 3:52 pm

    Great looking casserole!

    I haven’t suffered from itchiness but good luck on finding a solution! That sounds awful!

  • Caitlin @ Right Foot Forward March 15, 2010, 3:54 pm

    This used to happen to me occasionally, but it occurred inside on the treadmill and not while running outdoors. I think it had something to do with coming in from the cold and then sweating. I would get incredibly itchy on my stomach and around my ankles. Luckily, it seems to have stopped. I agree with some of the commenters above that fragrance free detergent, etc, may help. Good luck to Sarah!

  • Dani March 15, 2010, 3:56 pm

    I used to get this in my legs when I played basketball in high school, and we would practice in a cold gym in an empty school on Saturday mornings. I believe it happens when your body is cold and you warm up really fast. Maybe try a slower warm-up time to give your body more time to get used to it?

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' March 15, 2010, 4:10 pm

    It’s definitely a circulation issue! I had it, too, and I thought I was crazy! But I did some research, and found out it’s somewhat common, especially if you’re just starting out. If I remember correctly, it’s a good thing– your circulation is improving to areas that it may not have been reaching before!

    This may sound weird, but I often “itched” in more fatty/fleshy areas of my body– stomach, butt and thighs– and improving circulation to those areas means your body can elimate more fat and toxins from there!

    After a few weeks of running consistently, it should go away!

  • Lauern March 15, 2010, 4:13 pm

    This happens to me once in awhile too! I get it on my face, arms, and stomach. I always figured it was some sort of allergy reaction and blamed it on the air circulation in the gym…sometimes it is a bit too warm in there!

  • Meredith @ Sweat Every Day March 15, 2010, 4:27 pm

    my thighs get super itchy when I run more than 3-4 miles, regardless of the shorts/pants I wear or if I’m indoors or out. usually when I’m stretching, I rub my thighs pretty hard with the heel of my hand to “redistribute” the blood a little faster and this definitely helps me not itch as much (also the motion helps to itch my itch without scratching it up). it is like massaging your thighs, too, so it helps in the recovery. sometimes I get it on my chest and the same kind of motion helps. hope you figure it out!

  • Patrice March 15, 2010, 4:32 pm

    This is crazy. Just yesterday when I was running I experienced something similar for the first time and I was bewildered as to what was happening; about a mile in, the top of my feet starting itching really intensely. I had to actually stop and itch them! It was so strange. Eventually it died down around mile 3, and it didn’t happen again today. The conditions were pretty windy and around 50F, if this makes a difference. I dunno. Weird.

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly March 15, 2010, 4:39 pm

    I have heard of this before and it is a reaction to her heart rate getting higher…but I am not sure what the solution is.

  • Madison March 15, 2010, 4:41 pm

    Caitlin: I just got around to reading your race report. Good job lady! Reading about your swim really help me to understand the whole journey from start to T1. Thank you for explaining it so well. I was cheering you on as I read your swim journey. That was really awesome. I have swim fears and I still do even after reading your review but it gave me such hope that my fears can be conquered if I tried hard enough. Really really proud of you for sticking in there.

    Also, I use to get itchy after intense running or exercising. It was a tingly kind of itchy. It just started one day but I haven’t had it in a while. I never figured out what it was or what I could have done to prevent it. I am thinking maybe it is just all the blood flow going on. Weird, I thought it was just me but seems like this is common.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) March 15, 2010, 4:54 pm

    Great looking casserole Caitlin!
    NOt sure about the itchiness – but it seems like others have a few suggestions 🙂

  • Retta @ RunRettaRun March 15, 2010, 5:09 pm

    I’ve never experiened the itchies while running but it made me think of something. During both of my pregnancies, I got really, inredibly itchy in my first trimesters. I was told that it was due to the increased blood flow in the body, especially at the surface. It didn’t really make sense to me but it seems like this could be likely for the itchy runner!

  • stephanie March 15, 2010, 5:25 pm

    I get this on my legs when I power walk sometimes; mine’s not clothing related since I wear shorts that I’ve had forever and don’t bother me when not exercising. It’s almost like the intense tingling that happens when a body part that’s “fallen asleep” starts to wake up, somewhat burning. I’ve even had what looks like a histamine response on my legs, red streaks that itch like crazy. I have NO idea what causes it and it’s incredibly sporadic and unpredictable when it does happen.

  • julie March 15, 2010, 6:11 pm

    I am a trainer and I actually have a client who is allergic to exercise. A fight or flight response is triggered when her body temperature gets too elevated, along with her heart rate and she starts to get weird symptoms. She gets itchy, tired, faint. She blacked out one time while running and now always has a needle on her just in case her body goes into shock.

  • sirenjess March 15, 2010, 6:14 pm

    I’ve never heard of this before. Did she go to her doctor?

    Good job on your race. You conquered your fear and that’s amazing. I wish I could do a tri. I can’t swim so I’ll just stick to what I know: marathons.

  • John March 15, 2010, 6:28 pm

    Everyone already beat me to suggesting laundry detergent. I used too much at one time and I would itch where the top of my socks were.

  • Ellen March 15, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Mmm…your lunch looks so good! I love how you just throw eggs on things…pizza, rice, whatever. Eggs make everything better 🙂 I have NO idea what to tell the itchy runner except to see a dermatologist maybe??

  • Mama Pea March 15, 2010, 6:49 pm

    For me, it’s a circulation problem. I itch like CRAZY if I try to run outdoors and am not wearing warm enough clothes. If I stay insulated enough, I don’t have a problem. But also, DON’T SCRATCH…it only makes it worse!

  • Jacquelyn March 15, 2010, 6:49 pm

    Ya try using some non scented laundry detergent, you can by a small bottle to just try it out to see a difference. I do get the itches sometimes when Im in down right sprint mode and usually accompianed by chills so I am not sure if its the detergents fault, but the only thing I no to solve this is scratching my arms legs, booty.

  • sneaux March 15, 2010, 6:56 pm

    I have to go back and read the comments, but I *do* have this problem if it’s colder outside. My legs would itch so bad it would drive me absolutely insane. I always attributed it to my skin getting cold while hot blood was coursing through at a higher rate. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I find if it’s cool out, and I’m going to be out running or hiking, then I put on an extra layer to keep my skin warmer and that seems to alleviate the problem. Also, sometimes when I sweat a lot I get itchy – but I think that has to do with the salt in your sweat. Again – total hypothesis…

  • sarah (the SHU box) March 15, 2010, 7:23 pm

    oh, i’ve actually seen this in allergy clinic (i’m a resident — almost done — in pediatrics). it’s form of physical urticaria, sometimes called cholinergic urticaria, where itching and hives are triggered by an increase in body temperature (often due to activity/exercise). it is usually managed with antihistimines such as zyrec or claritin, plus/minus H2 blockers like zantac.

    it’s actually a fairly common condition, which makes sense given the experiences in the comments!

    caitlin — i’ll email you a more detailed article!

  • Amanda March 15, 2010, 7:43 pm

    I can relate! If I power walk, jog, or run, my legs and sometimes stomach become very itchy. My hands and feet also swell up and turn red. I stay well-hydrated. I’m not sure what any of this could mean.

  • BostonRunner March 15, 2010, 7:52 pm

    This used to happen to me sometimes. My body has trouble cooling itself down and when I would get hot I would itch. I think I read somewhere that this happens to new runners too? Something about circulation? I may have just made that up..

  • Lily @ Lily's Health Pad March 15, 2010, 8:19 pm

    This happens to me all the time. Usually, it’s when it’s cold outside and I have my legs exposed. It’s very common. It’s capillaries expanding due to increased blood flow.

  • HTP Dad March 15, 2010, 8:28 pm

    There can definitely be an allergic reaction to exercise – a friend I know has it, but only under extreme conditions. I had never heard of it before she told me.

  • Liz March 15, 2010, 8:36 pm

    Thanks for starting this great discussion. I get itchy legs after exceptionally intense runs. I’m glad I’m not the only itchy runner!

  • Anna March 15, 2010, 8:38 pm

    Weird. Never heard of that before. Although my gums used to get tingly/numb when I worked out in the cold. Twas highly bizarre, but it went away.

  • MaryAnn March 15, 2010, 8:46 pm

    I have the same itchiness problem. I was told it’s a combo of the capillary thing other commenters have said plus an allergic reaction. Here is what I was told (may not be exact, but I think it’s close):When you run, your foot strike releases mast cells which release histamine. The combination of this circulating histamine combined with the capillary stuff makes the histamine build up and cause the itchiness. When I ran, it would build up in my quads and the entire tops of my legs would be red, itchy, and hot. I started taking allergy medicine (Allegra), and have had no more problems since.

    • Sarah aka 'The Itchy Runner' March 15, 2010, 9:14 pm

      So THAT’s why it would happen only when running, not skiing or swimming or biking. Eureka! BTW I took some benedryl before my run today and it worked!

      • MaryAnn March 15, 2010, 9:20 pm

        Yay! I’m glad for you! I remember going through that for months — it was so, so frustrating. Good luck! 🙂

        • Mae March 15, 2010, 11:00 pm

          I could never take benadryl befroe a run… I would fall asleep! Is there a daytime allergy medicine that would work?

  • Natalya March 15, 2010, 8:50 pm

    I’ve had the same problem. Only when I run outside not on treadmills, it has gotten to the point where i sometimes break out in hives. When I run outside I have to take a Claritin D atleast 20min before hitting the pavement. It’s the strangest and most uncomfortable thing and it honestly put me off running for MONTHS. But now I just take the meds or run on the treadmill which isn’t nearly half as fun.

  • Anne March 15, 2010, 8:57 pm

    I have this too; mostly it is related to temperature. When I exercise in the cold I have to be sure to wear more layers — something about the flux in temperatures gives me hives! I also get hives in my neck when I workout strenuously inside or out, but they are not bad enough to be uncomfortable.

  • erin March 15, 2010, 9:22 pm

    I don’t have time to read all the responses, so I’m sorry if it’s already been said.

    My uncle has a problem that sounds much like this – I’m not sure of the full technical terminology, but he’s basically allergic to the combination of high body temperature and his own sweat. It can be really dangerous; he went in to anaphylactic (sp) shock and almost died. He now has to avoid exercise that really makes him sweat hard, and must carry an Epipen at all times.

    I’d really urge this reader to get to the doctor for some tests.

  • liane March 15, 2010, 9:22 pm

    Reason #7564 why I love blogs… I have this exact same problem. Itchy hives from mid thigh to stomach every time I run. Worse in the cold, probably because I have bad circulation. I’ve swapped detergents numerous times, nothing has ever helped!
    Wow, I had no idea I wasn’t the only one out there… Thank you! (and off to purchase anti-histamine!)

  • Keva March 15, 2010, 9:43 pm

    I have the same problem, it always starts on my belly and then spreads. I’m going to try some allergy meds tomorrow and I hope it works as well for me. It’s been making me crazy! Thanks for asking, I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • Jolene ( March 15, 2010, 9:53 pm

    I love those mini casseroles!!

  • Denise March 15, 2010, 10:08 pm

    I’ve always heard that itching during activity means your skin is shrinking??? That’s what my mom says anyway, and we all know that mom’s know everything, right?

  • Melissa March 15, 2010, 11:48 pm

    My fiance’s cousin and his family came to town somewhat last minute and my fiance’s family all got together for a dinner. He’s lucky that the majority of his extended family all live in the same town, so even though I live really far away from most of my family, I kind of get a surrogate family via my in-laws. Anyway, his cousin has a beautiful three year old boy named Ryder, whom I last met at Christmas, when he decided I would make a nice chair and just plopped down in my lap. This time around, the minute I walk in the door he runs up and gives me a huge hug. It was the most heart-warming thing ever. When I asked him if he remembered me, he nodded and said, “Yup!” and then ran off to play some more. He made my day.

  • Juli D. March 16, 2010, 9:20 am

    My dogs made me happy today. Just by being around and smiling at me all the time. 🙂

  • Aisha November 23, 2015, 10:20 pm

    I’ve had the same problem since I was in six grade and I am a junior now. It really sucks because I have to walk to the bus stop every week and I can’t walk about five minutes without itching, or having goosebumps all over my legs. It makes me angry because I wish there was a treatment for it. I’ve been told to run often and it will go away but that wasn’t true because I’ve walked/ran and would have to stop because of the fact that I felt like I was gonna pass out, I even took a dance class instead of PE and it didn’t even help. It’s not even about being out of shape because I am in a good shape and it still happens, the fact that it gets worse in the winter just hurts because I can’t really injoy to do fun things with my friends or families. I am glad that i am not the only one who is going through this. If you have a solution for this please help us, it is real.

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