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Golfer's Vasculitis

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Golfer's Vasculitis - Red Rash on Ankles and Lower Legs

Do you or someone you know get a red rash on your ankles or area below the knee? If so, this is a very common condition and reaction which is similar to heat rash.

Many people suffer from what's been termed "Golfer's Vasculitis". There really seems to be no cure or real reason for this mysterious rash. When reading articles and hearing Doctor's reports, people are told it's either an allergy or just a rash. The truth is that it happens to many more people than realized.

For me, I know it's NOT contact dermatitis. It's simply a reaction to the heat rising up from the earth or asphalt I am walking on.

I have been dealing with this rash for many years and normally get it more during the hot summer months in Central Florida. Or course, I walk a lot more here because there is so much to do. Many tourists to our city find out they sometimes get this rash when they visit our theme parks. Most people notice it when visiting Disney World and therefore it's been nicknamed, "Disney Rash". However, this rash isn't just prone to pop out on your lower legs just at Disney, but any park and any place you walk that has heat below you. Normally, if you go to the nursing station at any theme park, they will have Caladryl gel, which is a clear thick gel. It instantly feels cool, but the healing process can take well over a week, even if you use this at home later.

This rash that appears on the lower legs, mainly above the sock line, can be spotty and patchy. Sometimes it travels up as far as the knee, as in some of my photos. On the day I took these pictures, I wore long pants to see if the rash would stay away, as I had hoped to block some of the heat coming up from the asphalt I walked on at a local theme park. Regardless of how bad my legs may look or feel, they really are better than if I had worn shorts. For when I wear shorts, the red patches are puffy and more bright red, but closer to the ankles.

It's frustrating getting this rash because I do want to walk and lose some weight. But, when the outcome is a burning, itchy, painful rash, you just don't feel like putting yourself through it.

I hope others will come to my lens and share their tips and helpful information so that others can find some relief.

In the meantime, I will continually pursue looking for other methods that may help and report back here.

This rash does make it difficult to shave the legs because it's worse than razor burn. This is the largest spread of rash that I have had, but as I mentioned above, the cold cream (especially Noxzema) really does help cool down the skin and for me, it seems to help the skin heal faster.


Treating Red Rash on Legs

I have tried using Benadryl spray for the rash, but it doesn't seem to help and is sticky.

The website suggested using cold cream - now, that does help a lot because the cold cream cools down the skin.

Soaking in cold water or putting ice/cold packs on the skin does help cool it down too. Yes, the skin is hot everywhere it's red.

Caladryl gel put on before I take long walks has helped a little, but doesn't keep the rash from appearing. I also use it after and sometimes bring it with me, if I plan to be out for several hours walking around.

Leg Rash

Leg Rash

Another picture of the other leg rash

The photo is hard to see, but on this leg I did get a little bit of swelling under the rash.

These rashes are really a form of heat rash.

Yes, it burns and itches at the same time. I try to keep my legs elevated or go straight to bed. I have not been told that I have poor circulation, so it's merely a bad case of heat rash.

I hope that this lens will help others out there to know what they are dealing with and save you time and maybe money but having it treated appropriately.

The "Disney Rash"

This leg and ankle rash is often referred to as "The Disney Rash". It isn't specific to just Walt Disney World. Many people, including myself, get this rash by walking anywhere outside. This means it can pop up by walking in an outdoor shopping area or theme park. It just happens that more people notice this rash while visiting Walt Disney World and think it's somehow related. The only relation is the heat and humidity that Central Florida has.

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Many people are told this rash is due to some kind of allergic reaction - I can assure you that I have no allergies and it only happens when it's hot outside and I am walking. Others that suffer from this also claim the same.

Leg Rash Begins Above Sock Line

Leg Rash Begins Above The Sock Line and Spreads

Leg Rash Begins Above The Sock Line and Spreads

This is another shot of Golfer's Vasculitis, just another name for a leg rash that normally begins with heat. Blood vessels in the legs react in the form of a rash that lasts for at least a week.

Caladryl Gel on Amazon - Cooling Gel for Leg Rash

This gel is cooling and relieves the burning sensation from heat rash. May be applied prior to long walks, during and even afterwards for comfort.

Noxema cream to treat the leg rash

Noxema skin cream can actually help cool down the skin and make the rash more tolerable.

LiveStrong Website

The Livestrong website states there are 3 types of leg rashes and they are not uncommon. Apparently, this type of rash was discovered in 2005. I can tell you that I've had this much longer than their findings.

  • LiveStrong Website
    Leg rashes affect people differently. For more information and images on Golfer's Vasculitis or leg heat rash, check the information on this lens.

Ice Packs on Amazon

Sometimes adding ice or cold packs to the affected rash area helps in calming down the skin. Check out what these Amazon sellers have available.

"Golfer's Vasculitis" also known as Leg Rash

Golfer's Rash / Heat Rash

Please tell us how you got your rash, where you were and how you treated it.

If anything seems to work, even temporarily until the skin heals - please share it.

Share your comments on your rash

David J on August 03, 2018:

I’d like to thank Wendell and Zenith Meiring for their comments on how Zenith seemed to have found a cure for her golfers rash. I was getting it pretty badly from my ankles to below my knees after walking 18 holes of golf. I read your comment about bicarbonate of soda and the litmus strips. My litmus strip showed a number in the range of six. I felt it wasn’t too far away from 7 1/2 & shouldn’t be a factor. Nonetheless I have been taking a half a teaspoon of baking soda twice/day here in the states for the past 2 1/2 weeks. My golfers rash has disappeared. If I’m going to walk the golf course more than three days a week I will wear long white pants at least one of the days because I found keeping the sun off the legs also helps to some degree. But the major cure is the half a teaspoon of baking soda once in the morning and once at night every day. Thank you again to Zenith and Wendell.

anonymous on September 11, 2015:

I have had this rash several times over the past 20 years at it is always associated with getting wet on a water ride where they use recycled water. I never get it from just walking around all day at a theme park, but as soon as I get on a water ride, it breaks out. Thankfully, mine does not itch or bother me other than it looks terrible.

Wendell Meiring on December 23, 2014:

My wife, Zenith, has endured so-called Golfers' Vasculitis for many years now. At first we assumed that the rash was caused by fertiliser on the golf course. Visits to numerous internet sites suggest that there is no permanent cure. Then we discovered the miracle properties of lowly domestic Bicarbonate of Soda! It is claimed that most of life's ailments stem from an imbalance of Acid and Alkaline levels in the body. Ordinary bicarb quickly restores any acid/alkaline imbalance by boosting the alkaline count. On a scale of 1-14, it seems the ideal count should be about 7,5. Anything below 7 indicates too much acidity. I started taking bicarb for the odd bout of indigestion ... with instant relief ... before I read about the general acid issue. Zenith started taking bicarb just one month ago (1/2 teaspoon in warm water twice per day) and was astonished to notice that the golfers' rash has all but disappeared! Her friend, Anne, has had a similar "cure" after only two weeks on bicarb. It is still early days and one hesitates to claim bicarbonate of soda as the miracle cure for this (and other?) rashes and ailments, but it would certainly seem to be heading in the right direction. From what I have read on the internet, bicarb is not harmful when used responsibly, so most sufferers of golfers' vasculitis should be quite safe to try it. By the way, we initially bought a pack of litmus strips from our pharmacy to test our acidity levels. Zenith's initial test indicated a very high level of acidity (red), while mine showed alkalinity (blue). I have never suffered from rash on the golf course or anywhere else. This suggests that there may well be a correlation between high acidic levels and golfers' vasculitis. If this is true, then a regular dose of bicarbonate of soda is precisely "what the Doctor ordered!" Good luck and greetings from South Africa.

Mike on September 29, 2014:

@ajkajkajkajk - I got this while on holiday in India in February. I was hot and humid and I had been walking a lot. I thought maybe it was a reaction to the sun, as it felt like sunburn, but obviously wasn't. I'm now on holiday in Slovenia, it's quite hot, but I have been walking a lot. But I've been on holiday in hot countries before and done a lot of walking, but I never had this before, the only thing that is different is that I'm taking statins.

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on June 03, 2014:

@ajkajkajkajk: Hi. I just turned 50, however, I've had this since my early 20's. I am not on any medication. I've actually started blending essential oils with my Caladryl gel. I added a few drops of lavender and peppermint. Then, I rub it all over my legs from above the knee down. So far, no rashes. I'll see next week when we head to the Magic Kingdom and I'm outside all day. Janet

ajkajkajkajk on June 03, 2014:

I started getting this about 8 years ago. Same as everyone that has posted, long walks on hot or humid days or when I am wearing pants on days that are really not that hot. I started wondering if it has a connection to statins like Lipitor. Seems like people start getting it in their 50's and that is when most of us start our statin journey. I have had this when it did not itch or hurt and I have had it with a lot of pain. Last month i got it in Vegas - hot and dry - and was on top of feet and ankles swelled and it hurt. 3 days and no trace.

AbbeyG1234 on March 06, 2014:

I get this "rash" in many different ways. After a shower, even if its not even that hot, I get these blotchy red patches all over my lower legs and sometimes up my thighs. It doesn't itch one bit but it feels really really hot and it looks ugly. I also get this if i stand up too long, especially in the heat. It really puts me off going to festivals where you have to walk around lots unfortunately. If im sitting down in the hot sun i get it on my legs chest and arms. Ive been trying to figure out what it could be for about 7 years and haven't been able to come up with anything. Anyone else suffer the same things I do? If yes please comment, would love to know.

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on September 19, 2013:

@anonymous: I have lot of essential oils and never thought of trying the coconut oil! I can't believe it! I will try it next time. Thanks Pam :) - Janet

anonymous on September 19, 2013:

I get this rash after golfing 18 holes,in warm weather. It is not itchy and if I did not look at it I would not know the rash was there. I rub coconut oil on my legs and the rash is faded overnight.

anonymous on September 11, 2013:

I am 60 years old and started getting this rash when visiting Disneyworld several years ago. I wear socks and tennis shoes that are comfortable; I get it even when it is cool weather; doesn't matter whether I wear jeans or shorts. I was a normal weight when this began and am probably about 10 - 15 pounds under a normal weight now and still get the rash so it isn't due to that. I tend to have low blood pressure so that isn't causing it.

I have wondered whether my faster walking for longer stretches of time or the rides factor in.

Maybe one if these days someone can figure it out. Hope my experience helps people rule out some possibilities. I think I will give the compression socks a try.

anonymous on September 09, 2013:

Drinking Gatorade/Powerade before I golf or go on the long hike is what I've discovered works best for I concluded it was all the sweating/heat reaction and loss of electrolytes.

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on September 08, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks Kerry. It's the oddest thing. From what I researched and found, they came up with the term, "Golfer's Vasculitis", obviously because golfers were the first to report these symptoms. And like you, I do not get it ALL of the time. It is worse in the heat and humidity. I have even tried to wear long pants, thin pants, jeans, shorts, long socks, and even my usual ankle socks. Nothing seems to really deter it. And when I thought I had it narrowed down to it all being heat-related, this rash popped up during the winter here in Central Florida. So I am still confused as to the actual causes. I even thought maybe I was walking too hard and causing blood vessels to pool in my legs. And from everyone is reporting, we all seem to have times when it happens and other times we are ok. I do know though, that if I go out and walk in our summer heat, my ankles and shins will begin to itch. By that evening or next morning, the rash is worse and it hurts. I immediately put Noxema all over my legs and it helps with the heat radiating off of my legs. Ice packs work too, but Noxema covers more areas at once time. - Janet

anonymous on September 08, 2013:

I just posted and forgot to mention that the state where I received the rash is central Pennsylvania

anonymous on September 08, 2013:

I went to an Antique Machinery Show which is held in fields in a country setting. I was wearing capris and didn't notice any problem until evening when I had extreme itching. That is when I noticed bright red splotchy areas from my ankles up; almost to my knee on one leg. I wasn't sure where it came from; I had ridden in a tractor wagon, sat on bleachers & walked quite a bit on stone or dirt. I wondered if there was some kind of chemical they used with the water they were spraying on the roads to keep the dust down. I recently camped at a fair & walked on asphalt for the better part of a week, and spent 5 hrs. walking at a flea market at a different location without any problems. This is the first time I've ever had this and I'm 57. I did put hydrocortisone on my legs which helped although they still burn a bit.

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on September 07, 2013:

@anonymous: Hi Joyce. Sorry to hear that you suffer from this too. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of how to treat this condition. Most of us are doing a trial and error method. For me, Noxema cream works really well. It cools the skin and really helps with the bruising. When I know I'll be in the heat and walking around, I put Caladryl gel. I still get this bad rash, but it's not as bad as it would have been. And so many people get this rash when visiting theme parks here, that the first aid stations all carry sample packs of Caladryl. It's a very common condition here, mostly because of the humidity and heat that rises from the ground. Now, I will say I've gotten this rash walking inside a mall too, so I'm still at a loss as to the true causes. And for those being told it's from being overweight - I say this is not true. I have dealt with this problem for close to 20 years. Both in my younger, thin years, and now in my late 40s. I see so many tourists here at these Florida theme parks and want to talk to everyone that I see this dumb rash creeping up their legs. More doctors really need to research this.

anonymous on September 07, 2013:

@anonymous: I know what you mean about being overweight all I hear is lose weight but you know when I was a 100 pounds heavier I didn't have this rash and told them that and do you know what they said lose weight I know this stuff is about to drive me crazy

anonymous on September 07, 2013:

My rash hurts burns inches and my legs swell so bad I use Tylenol and that helps with the pain but nothing else my legs will break out and then bruise they really hurt badly I. Am a nursing assistant I don't know how long that I will be able to do my job I talked to the doctor and he doesn't know we're the spots are coming from I am so glad that I found this sight I could really use some good advice thanks everyone

anonymous on August 14, 2013:

Hi everyone, I've just returned from a weeks' hiking in Poland and have checked this site following the appearance of ankle rashes on both my husbands and my legs. We went to a local pharmacist who said it is very common and caused by walking on tarmac/asphalt. Her remedy cleared it completely in 3 days and so I can highly recommend. One calcium tablet (Calcium-Sandoz Forte) twice a day and then some weird chestnut cream rubbed on affected area as often as required (Esceven: Hippocastani seminis extractum spissum + Heparinum natricum). 3 days and the red rash had all but disappeared. Sorry, this is the best I can advise but it worked a treat!!!

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on July 02, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks for commenting. It's great to see what is working for others. I have compression socks, but they are mostly for long pants. I just obtained a pair of diabetic socks that I will try next time I go out. I know the heat plays a part in this, but I also know I walk very hard, ever since a car accident I had many years ago. Sometimes I don't realize how hard I am slamming my feet on the ground and have to really think "heel to toe"... I will report back after wearing these socks and let everyone know how it goes. Thanks again. :) Janet

anonymous on July 02, 2013:

I am a hiker/backpacker. Every summer without fail thisrash appears on my legs after spending many hours in hiking boots. After reading the comments by others I purchased runners compression socks. They work wonderfully! They are expensive but will last a very long time if you care for them properly. Thanks to all who posted!

anonymous on July 01, 2013:

@wendy-c-cahoon: Hi, Wendy, my name is Crystal and I've posted here before; I too have the discoloration after my bouts with this...I just forgot to mention it before. My doctor recently told me to wear either TED hose or compression stockings whenever I know I will be out and about and walking a lot. And it does seem to help a lot. I don't have near the breakout as before!

He said since it is a type of vasculitis (which causes the veins to "leak") the compression stockings or TED hose will compress and help eliminate some of this and it does help! It's not the greatest fashion statement esp. when wearing capris or shorts but if you have it bad enough you'll try anything! Also as I posted before my breakouts are often painful and I found that extra strength Lanacane helps numb the area and I use it more often than the directions say. Also keeping legs elevated and iced after walking helps my heal time speed up a little. I have even been to a vascular doctor/surgeon who also says that suppport hose does help. Hope this helps because it can be so uncomfortable, unsightly, and often painful!

anonymous on July 01, 2013:

@wendy-c-cahoon: Hi, Wendy, my name is Crystal and I've posted here before; I too have the discoloration after my bouts with this...I just forgot to mention it before. My doctor recently told me to wear either TED hose or compression stockings whenever I know I will be out and about and walking a lot. And it does seem to help a lot. I don't have near the breakout as before!

He said since it is a type of vasculitis (which causes the veins to "leak") the compression stockings or TED hose will compress and help eliminate some of this and it does help! It's not the greatest fashion statement esp. when wearing capris or shorts but if you have it bad enough you'll try anything! Also as I posted before my breakouts are often painful and I found that extra strength Lanacane helps numb the area and I use it more often than the directions say. Also keeping legs elevated and iced after walking helps my heal time speed up a little. I have even been to a vascular doctor/surgeon who also says that suppport hose does help. Hope this helps because it can be so uncomfortable, unsightly, and often painful!

Janet (author) from Orlando, Florida on June 28, 2013:

@wendy-c-cahoon: Hi Wendy. Yes, my lower front part of my legs (mostly my right) are discolored. I find it embarrassing, even though it may not look like much to others. I actually found information on a Golfer's website and then began checking it out. I only knew 2 other people who had this happen, so it wasn't very common. (or so I thought). To date, most in the medical field have no clue why we get it, or how to treat it. It's a trial and error treatment from what I have gathered. Mine use to only show up in the hot and humid summer of Florida. But, I have had small bouts of it during the winter now too. I can usually ward it off by wearing long pants, but lately, that does not seem to help either. I normally wear low socks when we go walking in the theme parks (and it happens at ALL of them, not just at Disney). When I wear longer socks, the rash will begin just above that sock line. I pre-treat with Caladryl gel and it seems to help a little than when I do nothing before going out. When I get home, I always put Noxzema cream and it immediately cools it down. I have noticed the rash goes away quicker and the menthol in the Noxzema helps me. I can't say it's only a Central Florida condition, because I have had it happen in SW Florida as well and others are posting they get it where they live.

I will say that the heat coming up from the ground or asphalt is a huge contributor, which makes sense to me. As I go walking at these parks during the weeks, I do check other people out and see lots and lots of people with leg rashes. I always wonder if they even feel it yet because I know when my ankles and shins begin to itch, that it's too late. The rash has already begun to do its thing.

Interestingly, regardless if I am at a Disney park, Universal, Sea World, or Bush Gardens, when you go to the first aid station and show them your legs, they always give you a small packet of the Caladryl gel I normally use. And just when I attributed this to the Central Florida area, I broke out after I began walking in indoor malls - not in this area. So, whether it's a circulation thing, a heat thing, or allergy - it would be wonderful for the medical field to understand this, and finally diagnose why we are all getting it. Even Kerri posted a few days ago that it happened in Israel. So it's definitely more widespread and global than we realize.

I truly appreciate all of the comments, because I have dealt with this for well over 30 years and have yet to find a suitable and concrete answer. - Janet

wendy-c-cahoon on June 28, 2013:

I have been suffering with this for many years. I have one thing that I don't see people mention on here. After the first few times I had this happen and I also was swollen badly, but it left a discoloration at the lower part of my leg. Almost like a dark splotchy rash. Just wondering if this has happened to anyone else and if anyone knows what can be done about this problem? I also noticed that it is not listed on webmd, is this something new to the medical field?

anonymous on June 24, 2013:

Kerri Fitzgerald

I'm on vacation in Israel , I'm experiencing also nasty red rash on my ankles above sock line, I have no symptoms just the ugly bright red blotches, never had it before or ever seen it

anonymous on June 14, 2013:

@CatnDog: Kathleen I first got this leg rash 27yrs ago in Disney,when I was in my 20's. I am now 50 and get it often when it is hot out and especially when it is the least bit humid. It gets so bad at times that I run a fever the night it first is getting more painful also, my lower legs (not feet) feel as if they are going to split open,it throbs,tingles and burns. After I walk I elevate my legs and apply ice packs,this has always helped to some degree . The rash can last hours to days. I wish there was a cure or prevention for this ugly painful rash. I have tried allergy meds and aspirin before walking for months at a time without positive results. It happens in the humid weather with or without socks with long and short pants, with or without lotion and with or without shaving legs. It's getting to the point where I can't walk or stand for long periods of time without feeling first the tingling in my lower legs before the ugly red rash appears.I have a sibling that also is affected by this. No doctor has a answer for me.Good luck to us all.