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What is the Disney rash?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 10, 2021

The Disney rash is a kind of blood vessel inflammation called vasculitis that affects the lower parts of the legs after you perform strenuous exercise or activity for a long time, especially in warm weather. It is more commonly seen in women aged over 50.

Medically, this rash is called exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV). It is also called golfer’s rash or golfer’s vasculitis. It is harmless, and it often disappears on its own within 2 weeks after it appears.

Though medical conditions are commonly named after specific people the Disney rash is not named after someone called "Disney." But, the name came about because the rash is common among visitors to Disney World and other major theme parks.

Visitors to these popular spots end up walking long distances, and the strain of extended walking together with the warm weather causes frequent breakouts of the Disney rash.

Symptoms of the Disney Rash

Disney rash usually shows up on the skin of your lower legs that isn’t covered by clothing. So, if you’re wearing socks, for example, you will see signs of the rash starting from just above the sock line. 

Look for these specific symptoms:

  • ‌Red or purple-colored blotches or spots
  • ‌Swelling (edema) in the affected areas
  • Itching, pain
  • Stinging or burning sensations

‌There are usually no signs of a fever or other signs of discomfort when the rash is present. 

The Treatment Options

Disney rash is a harmless condition and will normally disappear on its own in about 3 to 10 days. The skin discoloration usually clears up in about 3 to 4 weeks’ time, but sometimes, colored spots can remain.

Here are some treatment options you can use to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Stay out of the heat. It will help bring down your body temperature.
  • ‌Stop all forms of exercise or strenuous activities until the condition clears up. This will give your body the time it needs to heal.
  • Keep your feet elevated for as long as possible when you’re sitting or lying down. Rest your legs on an ottoman or a stack of pillows. You could even try yoga exercises like resting your feet up against a wall with your back on the floor.
  • ‌Wear compression socks or stockings. There is a misconception that compression socks or stockings are meant for older people. They are an excellent practical tool that supports blood circulation and prevents swelling because of pooling and retention of blood in the legs.

You can even wear these during long flights where you won’t be doing much moving around. If you’re a runner and you wear compression socks, you may find that it improves your performance in subsequent runs. 

  • ‌Increase your fluid intake in the form of water or fresh juices. Hydration is essential to keep the Disney rash symptoms at bay.
  • Applying cool, wet towels to the affected areas may also help to bring down the temperature and relieve the symptoms.
  • ‌Soak your feet and ankles in cool bath water filled with Epsom salts for about 20 minutes to relieve any pain that you may be feeling from the swelling.

Your doctor may recommend other treatments in the form of medications to manage the itchiness, burning sensation, or other concerns you may have.

The Prevention Methods

The Disney rash commonly happens after you do strenuous activity in warm weather, So here are some basic steps that you can take to prevent the rash:

  • Wear light and loose clothing when outside or in warm weather to help keep your body temperature down.
  • ‌Drink a lot of fluids in the form of water or fresh juices. Carry a water bottle with you and take sips frequently at regular intervals.
  • ‌Use comfortable, high-quality, and well-fitting footwear.
  • ‌Wear compression socks and stockings to support your legs.
  • ‌Take breaks when you are doing an exercise or an activity like walking, trekking, or bodybuilding for a long time. For example, for every hour that you walk, take short 15-minute breaks to rest your legs and feet.

In Closing

‌The Disney rash usually clears up on its own, and the treatment guidelines mentioned earlier can help reduce the symptoms. Consult your doctor if you feel any discomfort, if the symptoms show no signs of reducing, or if the symptoms get worse. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "What You Should Know About Compression Socks," "6 Best Fixes for Pain and Swelling in Your Feet and Ankles."   

CMAJ: "Exercise-induced vasculitis."

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