Heavy walking plus hot Florida weather can equal quite a pain in the leg! The dreaded Disney Rash affects hundreds of Walt Disney World Resort visitors each year, but it only recently was named as a medical condition. We’ve got the Mickey Mouse sock-centered scoop on what this heat rash really is, how to treat it, how to prevent it, and more!
Let’s get walking!
What Is the Disney Rash?
Itchy! Burning! Rashy! Don’t fear, the Disney rash is just inflammation on the blood vessels in your lower leg and ankle. A medical condition called “Golfer’s Vasculitis,” the Disney Rash strikes people who are involved in heavy or prolonged exercise in hot weather. The condition can also be called “exercise induced vasculitis” or “hiker’s rash.” Some will diagnose it as Leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which refers to the small blood vessel inflammation.
The reason for the magical moniker is that visitors to Walt Disney World often get this rash from the hot weather combined with heavy walking. The golfer’s rash occurs above the sock line, as socks and shoes offer compression and support. The rash is often experienced by those that visit EPCOT or Animal Kingdom, where walking can be to the extreme, but some will also find it after visiting Magic Kingdom, the most popular theme park at Disney World.
The red, itchy skin rash can go from the sock line all the way up to the knee. Some Disney-goers have mentioned burning or stinging from the rash, but you’ll know that it’s not poison ivy or an allergic reaction.
Red or purple blotches (sometimes small spots) occur from the pooling or breakage of small blood vessels in the legs. There are typically no other signs of discomfort and no fever with this condition. The itchy symptom is a pain in the leg, but you can do a few things to help yourself feel better during your Disney trip!
How Do You Cure or Treat the Disney Rash?
Plagued by itchy legs and red splotches? These steps might help you feel a lot better! The rash itself is fairly harmless (aside from the itch!) and typically resolves itself in either a few days or a week. Severe discoloration can linger for several weeks!
If you find yourself with a rash appearing, stay out of the heat and try to cool down. Stop all exercise or strenuous walking/running until your rash clears up. This will give you time to heal! Of course, if you are in the middle of your vacation, simply try to take it easy. Take in more shows, take advantage of more transportation, or perhaps enjoy an afternoon at your Resort.
Keep your feet and legs elevated as much as possible. If possible, lay down. Wear compression stockings, if it doesn’t hurt to do so. The itching may worsen if you don’t allow your skin to breathe. Listen to your body!
Apply hydrocortisone or Benadryl cooling gel. Disney fans have shared that this specific product helps to cool the area as well as alleviate the itch or burn. It also can help with sunburn, so it’s a great item to pack in your vacation bag!
Drink more water! Staying hydrated is important to keep the rash down, but also in hot weather! Towels dipped in cool, wet water, draped on your legs, can help alleviate symptoms and bring down body temperature. It may also help relieve your itch temporarily.
Call your doctor, if needed. They may have advice for your health condition or offer personalized direction for your concerns. Remember, we aren’t doctors! Medical professionals spoke to Forbes about the Disney Rash and said,
“Traveling with a topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may help reduce symptoms,” says Dr. Cotton. “NSAIDs and antihistamines may reduce symptoms of itching and burning,” he adds. If symptoms worsen, he suggests visiting a physician or getting seen at an urgent care setting.
“When traveling, you might need to adjust your itinerary to reduce long walks,” says Dr. Prystowsky. Keep hiking down to a minimum, wear your sunscreen, and take care in hot prickly heat!
How Do You Prevent the Rash?
The Disney Rash occurs when you are involved in strenuous activity in hot weather. If you have fallen ill to this rash, and wish to prevent Disney Rash from happening again (or want to avoid it altogether), try taking these steps:
- Start walking at home. While you might not break 10,000 steps a day at home, Disney fans on a vacation don’t want to miss anything! One can easily hit 16,000 to 20,000 steps per day for a week!
- Wear light and loose clothing when visiting the Disney Parks to keep your body temperature from rising. Wicking fabrics can help a lot.
- Drink lots of water or juice. Carry a water bottle with you in your park bag, or visit the quick service restaurants for complimentary cups of filtered, iced water.
- Bring comfortable, well-fitting footwear. Two pairs of supportive shoes can offer a chance for one to air out and dry. Check out our Best Shoes at Disney article for top suggested shoes to wear!
- Wear athletic socks or compression socks/stockings if needed for any swelling. Calf compression sleeves can be useful, especially after running at Disney or walking a lot during your trip. They offer great support for your leg!
- Take a break! Watching a show like The American Adventure in the United States Pavilion is a welcome break from the heat and the walking. Consider cross-lagoon transportation in the Friendship Boats instead of walking. A good measure for breaks is 15 minutes for every hour on your feet.
Have you ever experienced the Disney Rash? Leave us a comment with what made you feel better!