Physical Therapist Jeff Castiglione Responds:
It sounds like you are experiencing exercise urticaria, a physical allergy that is also known as exercise allergy or itchy legs.
Symptoms include itching and possibly swelling or hives. These can occur during or after exercise and may be experienced on the legs, arms, torso or neck.
Exercise urticaria is not caused by your age or health.
You may, however, be more susceptible based on the medications you take prior to exercising or the foods that you eat. Foods that can encourage exercise urticaria include seafood, celery, wheat and cheese.
In most cases, you can take an antihistamine before exercise or reduce the intensity of your workout to ward off the symptoms.
If you exercise regularly (every day or two), the symptoms should decrease in intensity.
In extremely rare cases, exercise urticaria can be life-threatening. If you experience severe symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a medication that you would take when the symptoms occur and that will stop them from progessing.
I would recommend an evaluation by your physician to make sure that it is safe to exercise.
— Jeff Castiglione, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
Jeff is the manager of AthletiCare - Amherst, which provides Physical Therapy and Sports Training and Injury Prevention services in Amherst, NY.
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