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A “Disney rash” may not be the souvenir you had in mind, but many visitors to Disneyland, Disneyworld, and other amusement parks find they get it.
The medical name for Disney rash is exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV). This condition is also called golfer’s rash, hiker’s rash, and golfer’s vasculitis.
A combination of hot weather, sunlight exposure, and sudden, prolonged periods of walking or exercising outdoors causes this condition. That’s why people who spend long days strolling at theme parks may be prone to it.
EIV isn’t a rash but a condition where small blood vessels in the legs are inflamed. Swelling and discoloration can happen on one or both ankles and legs. It often happens on the calves or shins but may also affect the thighs.
EIV can include large red patches, purple or red dots, and raised welts. It may itch, tingle, burn, or sting. It may also cause no physical sensation to happen.
EIV is typically confined to exposed skin and doesn’t occur under socks or stockings.
It’s not dangerous or contagious. It usually resolves on its own, around 10 days after returning home, once you’re away from the conditions that brought it on.
Anyone can get Disney rash, but females over the age of 50 may be most at risk.
No matter your age or sex, there are things you can do to help prevent this condition during vacation.
Protect your skin from the sun
Research indicates it may help if you keep your legs and ankles covered with light clothing, such as socks, stockings, or pants. This will reduce your skin’s exposure to both direct and reflected sunlight.
Anecdotally, some people report using sunscreen has the same effect.
Wear compression clothing
Some research indicates that people who have already experienced an episode of EIV may be able to prevent future occurrences by wearing compression socks or stockings. Compression leggings and pants are also available.
Massage your legs
That same research suggests manual lymphatic drainage massage could be of benefit as well.
This gentle massaging technique is geared toward draining lymph out of the legs and increasing blood flow in both deep and superficial veins in the legs. Here’s how to do it.
Drink water and go light on salt
Drink lots of fluids and avoid eating salty food. This will help avoid the swelling associated with EIV.
Wear moisture-wicking clothing
If it’s hot and sunny, make sure to protect your legs from sun exposure by covering them with light-colored fabric or sunscreen.
If it’s humid, try wearing moisture-wicking socks for added comfort. Covering your skin will help prevent further irritation.
Use cool washcloths or ice packs
If you’re experiencing this temporary form of vasculitis, using a wet covering, such as a towel on your legs, may be a good way to help treat it. Keeping your legs cool with ice packs or cold washcloths can help alleviate irritation and reduce swelling.
Apply anti-itch cream
Don’t let yourself get dehydrated. Drinking water and other fluids may help alleviate, and prevent, EIV.
Elevate your feet
It may be hard to rest while you’re out and about on vacation, but try to build in rest breaks with your legs elevated whenever possible.
You may be able to do this while someone holds your place in ride lines and during snack or meal breaks. Ducking into air-conditioned kiosks or restrooms with seated areas can also help.
Check guest services
Disney and other theme parks typically have first aid stations throughout the facility. They may stock anti-itch cooling gel to use on your skin. You can also gear up with some ahead of time.
Soak your feet
When the day is done, treat yourself to a cooling oatmeal bath. Keeping your legs elevated overnight may also help.
Other reasons may lead to rashes and skin irritations while you’re on vacation. Some common ones that aren’t vasculitis include:
- Heat rash (prickly heat). Heat rash can affect adults or children. It occurs in hot, humid weather and results from skin-on-skin or fabric-on-skin chafing.
- Urticaria. This condition is earmarked by hives brought about by raised body temperature. It can occur if you exercise strenuously or sweat profusely.
- Sunburn and sun poisoning. Too much sun exposure can cause sunburn or sun poisoning to occur. Also known as sun allergy, this condition can result in a painful, itchy red rash and blisters. You can avoid it by using sunscreen or keeping your skin covered with UV-protective fabric.
- Contact dermatitis (allergy). While you’re on vacation, you might be exposed to environmental irritants you’re sensitive or allergic to. These can include hotel soaps and shampoos and the detergent used to wash your bedding.
Disney rash may not be the only tourist-related malady you experience while on vacation. Here are some other vacation-related conditions and their fixes.
For aching feet and legs
People claim to clock in anywhere from 5 to 11 miles a day at theme parks like Disney. That amount of walking is bound to take its toll on feet and legs.
A good way to ensure that your feet live up to the challenge is by wearing well-fitting, comfortable shoes. Make sure you choose footwear that allows your feet to breathe and also provides ample support.
Choose footwear that’s appropriate for hiking in hot weather, and your feet, legs, and back will all be in better shape at the end of the day.
Flip-flops and flimsy sandals may not be your best bet. But they’re handy to keep with you for a quick change at the very end of the day.
Whether the sun is bright or you’re walking around on a cloudy or hazy day, wear sunscreen. A hat and sunglasses can help protect your face and eyes. Also consider opting for sun-protective clothing that’s light-colored.
If you do get a sunburn, treat it with home remedies, such as aloe vera, oatmeal baths, or cool compresses. If your sunburn is blistered or severe, check in with your hotel doctor, or stop by a theme park first aid station for treatment.
It can be hard to escape from heat and humidity at a theme park, but there are ways to stay cool on the go. Consider the following:
- Carry a battery-operated or paper handheld fan. You can also find battery-operated fans that attach to strollers or can clip on to wheelchairs.
- Use a personal, handheld water mister on your face, wrists, and the back of your neck for an instant cooldown.
- Keep drinks in a small cooler with an ice pack or frozen bottle of water.
- Wear a cooling bandana with activated polymers around your forehead or neck.
- Wear a cooling vest. These usually use evaporative cooling or come with a cold-pack system.
- Wear moisture-wicking fabrics to keep skin comfortable and dry.
The most important thing is to drink plenty of water or hydrating drinks. They can be cold or not, but staying hydrated helps your body do what it does best to keep you cool: sweat.
It may be vacation, but a day at a theme park can be grueling, even if you’re in great physical condition. At the end of the day, try to build in some quiet time when you can rest and recharge.
Getting a great night’s sleep will also help rejuvenate you for the next day’s fun. Drink lots of fluids, and avoid having too many dehydrating substances, like alcohol and caffeine.
If you develop a Disney rash, build in time to take a cool bath or shower, followed by an application of skin-cooling gel or ointment. Remember to elevate your feet.
Keep in mind that Disney rash typically goes away on its own within two weeks after your vacation is over. While it’s healing, the itch and discomfort should ease.