Five things you should know about “Golfers Vasculitis (aka Disney Rash)…”
We had a great day planned with friends: a morning tour at the Uffizi Gallery; followed by lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in Florence, Trattoria Cammillo; and an on-our-own walking tour of the city in the afternoon.
Although it was only May, the changeable weather had turned oppressively hot and humid. After retrieving our rental van from one of the city’s public parking lots at the end of the day, I noticed that both my legs had a now-recognizable red rash just above the ankles: telltale sign of Golfer’s Vasculitis.
Oops, I did it again
Last year, I encountered this same, often misdiagnosed, malady for the first time. After a long, hot, but enjoyable day exploring the historic center of Orvieto, I was proud of the miles I had logged onto my Fitbit. But I freaked out when I glanced down at my legs.
Had I been bitten by an insect or spider? Even worse, bedbugs? Was I allergic to new laundry detergent or the bedding in the room? Was it cellulitis? The mind does tend to wander.
It turned out to be none of the above. Like any good researcher, I self-diagnosed my case of Golfer’s Vasculitis after finding pictures of equally ugly legs (and some worse ones) on Google. My physician confirmed the diagnosis after I sent him an email with a series of “wish-you-were-here” photos.
Should it happen to you, here are five things need to know about Golfer’s Vasculitis:
1) Golfer’s Vasculitis is usually harmless, resolves on its own, and affects people who are relatively healthy.
It is a form of vasculitis (an inflammation of blood vessels) that appears as a rash, usually above one’s ankles (above the sock line, if you are wearing them). It can extend as high as one’s thighs and affects both legs rather than one.
The red spots are hot and feel like sunburn. The rash usually doesn’t itch or blister but can cause swelling, especially around the ankles. It looks worse than it feels.
2) To promote awareness, medical researchers have suggested calling the condition Golfer’s Vasculitis.
In one of the few published studies, an Australian medical researcher suggested using one standard term to promote awareness of the disorder. In both the medical and lay literature, Golfer’s Vasculitis is variously referred to as:
- Disney Rash
- Epcot Rash
- Dollywood Rash
- Hiker’s Rash, and
- Exercise-Induced Vasculitiis (EIV)
3) Some individual factors place certain individuals at greater risk than others for experiencing this condition:
- Being over the age of 50
- Being female
- Having blood relatives who have had it
- Having had it before (oops…)
4) Situational/environmental factors also come into play.
The condition tends to occur among at-risk individuals (already predisposed to getting it) who spend extended periods of time on their feet in hot, humid climates.
For example, the rash is often reported after:
- Taking long hikes, city walks, or walking tours
- Visiting amusement parks (like Disney)
- Taking cruise excursions
- Participating in charity walks
- Playing golf
5) Unfortunately, there’s little you (or I) can do to prevent Golfer’s vasculitis.
Aside from staying hydrated and stopping to elevate your feet whenever you have the opportunity, there aren’t many practical prevention strategies.
Experts recommend wearing open shoes that are more breathable. Although flip-flops or sandals might reduce the odds of the rash appearing, they predispose travelers to other dangers, especially when walking on uneven streets or in crowded places.
Others suggest wearing compression hosiery, although it can be quite uncomfortable when visiting hot, humid places for extended periods of time.
Read more about Golfer’s Vasculitis:
- Golfer’s Vasculitis: A common but often misdiagnosed boomer travel malady (previously on More Time To Travel)
- Exercise-induced vasculitis (on a dermatology website)
- NIH abstract on Golfer’s Vasculitis
- Paper on Golfer’s Vasculitis (in the Medical Journal of Australia)