Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Dreaded "Pilgrim Ankles"

Golfer's Vasculitis

Each and every time I walk the Camino,
after a few days,
I get a strange rash on my ankles,
right at the top of my socks.

I've come to expect it and am here to tell you
not to worry.

It's common
and it will resolve on its own.

It is not itchy or painful.
But it IS alarming to see.

The rash is caused by tiny blood vessels under your skin breaking.
This might be due to heat,
but is more likely due to the 6 hours of walking
carrying a heavy pack
that your body is not used to.

You can lighten your load,
walk less, 
or do nothing,
and it will resolve on its own.

Sometimes I rub it with alcohol.
Sometimes I do nothing.
But it's just one of those Camino things.

Here are some photos.

On the route from Lourdes

On the VDLP
The rash has a name.
Here is a bit I found online:

Go to any multi-day walking event in the summer and you will see a red heat rash on the calves of many walkers. The heat rash often starts above the sock line and makes red patches and splotches up the calf. It usually doesn't itch and is believed to be heat-related, since these same walkers don't get it in cooler weather. What is it?

Golfer's Vasculitis

Ask most physicians about this common rash and they draw a blank. That is probably due to few people seeking medical help for it. The rash usually clears up in a couple of days, usually before they are able to get an doctor's appointment. At last, a paper in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology has described it and proposed naming it "golfer's vasculitis."

Causes of the Heat Leg Rash

Researchers interviewed several people with the rash and discovered that many underwent extensive allergy testing because they believed they must have been having a reaction to some chemical or plant. But it was simply an irritation of the blood vessels following prolonged exercise in the heat, such as walking for extended periods or playing 18 holes of golf.

The rash is more common in people over 50. Most walkers can't pinpoint anything new they have used that may be causing a reaction. And since so many walkers have it, they couldn't all have contacted the same irritant. The source is simply heat and age--your leg blood vessels getting irritated from the heat.

Prevention and Treatment of Golfer's Vasculitis

The research offered no treatment or prevention recommendations. It seems to occur in healthy, active people. The researchers suggest it should not be a health concern and recommend not getting allergy testing, etc.

So don't worry.

Just put your feet up and love them a bit.

This will go away.

I promise.

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