Updated for 2017!
Walking. You will do an incredible amount of walking on a Disney vacation. Sometimes the mileage adding up can be more painful than the sticker shock from the cost of your trip. Sore legs, aching feet, and then throw in a rash. Wait, what?? Seasoned Disney World and Disneyland travelers have noticed a rash appearing on the legs of people walking in the parks and resorts. They call it the “Disney Rash.” Is there really such a vacation ailment?
I know my Disney Visa bill can make my eye twitchy, but can a Disney vacation really make you itchy?
The Disney Rash
Described as a strange rash covering the calves and shins, most people say The Disney Rash is not itchy, but it reportedly looks terrible, like a red-colored heat rash. It seems to be most prevalent when it’s hot. Hello, it’s hot in both Disney parks for a great deal of the year, so this has potential vacation trouble written all over it, at least if you don’t want to be uncomfortable and have all your pictures taken from the waist up. The rash seems to develop at the beginning of the vacation and suddenly disappear when you get home, many times before things got bad enough to call a doctor.
Thus the name Disney Rash…
Disney travelers have long suspected the rash was caused by chemicals used to clean sidewalks, cement dust, or plants and flowers blooming in the warmer weather.
On Internet discussion boards and Facebook groups, many people have suggested the following treatments:
- tall socks
- moisture wicking socks
- body lotions
- applying a cool damp cloth to the legs throughout the day
- elevating the feet/calves
So really, are the Disney parks and resorts making customers break out in a rash?
While you certainly have the potential of developing this condition on a vacation, the geographical location has nothing to do with the symptoms. Disney sidewalks, Disney chemicals, and Disney landscaping are not causing the rash. So what is?
Wendy Bumgardner, a walking expert from walking.about.com, indicates the rash is “an irritation of the blood vessels following prolonged exercise in the heat, such as walking for extended periods or playing 18 holes of golf. “Many physicians call this Golfer’s Vasculitis. Exercise-induced vasculitis and hiker’s rash are other common names associated with this condition.
Heatrash.org concurs that Golfer’s Vasculitis needs no specific treatment, since most dermatologists say it tends to disappear on its own within a matter of a few days. They do offer a list of suggestions to soothe inflammation caused by the rash.
- Use Aloe Vera gel, best if directly used from the plant, to soothe the burning sensation.
- Soak your ankles in some cool water, plus add Epsom salts.
- Wrap your feet in towels soaked in cold water.
- Elevate your feet to soothe pain and inflammation.
- Liberally dust some prickly heat powder on the rash, ensuring skin remains free off sweat.
Heatrash.org offers some great tips to prevent Golfer’s Vasculitis/Disney Rash from ever occurring. And stopping a rash before it starts obviously sounds best, although tough to accomplish if you travel when the temperature is warmer.
Would you describe yourself as someone who sweats a lot? You need to avoid wearing confining pants or socks. Choose quick drying synthetic clothing and footwear, plus occasionally air out your feet and ankles.
To prevent excess sweating, dust your feet, ankles, calves and legs with prickly heat powder.
To prevent ankle chaffing, wear light cotton socks with a loose weave and moisture-wicking properties.
Change your socks multiple times in a day and wash the used pairs in hot water.
Stay out of the sun and hang out in the shade. Since the peak time for sun is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., this is definitely not the best time for walking, running, jogging, golfing, or obviously Disney parking.
Wear comfortable shoes like sandals or light shoes with Velcro straps. Use this article for more info. on choosing shoes:
In addition to the comments at the bottom of the article, we had many, many of our Cheapskate Princess Facebook fans describe their experiences with the rash.
Kathy, “My husband, who is a Cast Member, gets this occasionally. Now we know what it is!”
Patricia, “I had that rash many times. I also found that walking before going to Disney didn’t prevent the rash but lessened the appearance.”
Shelley, “I notice I have been getting it the last several years at Disney. Going to the parks a lot next year, so I’ll have to read up and try to prevent this. Doesn’t itch but looks awful, and I think everyone notices and stares.”
Karen, “Every time I go this happens to me. Sorry others get it too, but glad I’m not alone!”
Hollie, “My dad got it so badly on our November trip of 2014. We got a cream that they sold in the gift shop that cleared it up, so it wasn’t a big deal. I just made sure he applied it a couple of times a day. Note: we went to first aid in Animal Kingdom, and they cream they gave us there did NOTHING. So it was worth the extra charge buying the rash cream in the store.”
Cathleen, “I’ve gotten it before when it was very hot; we took a mid-day pool break and elevated in the evenings. I kept thinking it was a chemical thing because on the 6 night trip, we only did two Disney park days and one Universal/IOA day. I didn’t have it this bad though, and it did disappear a few days after being home.”
Michelle, “This happened to me in 2014. I wore socks and tennis shoes the whole time thinking it would be better for my feet, but it was too hot. Last year, I wore Orthaheel flip-flops. My feet were cooler, I never broke out, and I walked between 6 and 10 miles a day comfortably.”
You will do a lot of walking at Disney parks in both Florida and California. Use this guide for more information:
Ms. Bumgardner offers several other issues that can be confused with the Disney Rash/ Golfer’s Vasculitis on walking.about.com.
Unlike golfer’s vasculitis, prickly heat itches. This rash is triggered by blocked sweat glands and causes raised itchy red dots or bumps. It is best treated by getting out of the heat for a few days and not scratching the area. Use this link for info. on Heat Rash and Prickly Heat.
If your legs are itchy during or after exercise with no relation to heat, you may have exercise urticaria. Use this link for more information on Itchy Legs Syndrome.
If you break out in tiny itchy hives following an increase in body temperature, whether due to exercise or a hot shower, you may be suffering from Cholinergic Urticaria. Use this link for more information on Cholinergic Urticaria.
Who knew walking and taking vacations could be so itchy and rashy?!
Our best advice pre-vacation has always been to do some walking before you leave:
There are some AMAZING places to walk around at Walt Disney World. The last thing you want to deal with is a rash.
If you’ve ever suffered from this rash on vacation, leave a comment and let us know how you handled it.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you applying sunscreen and trying to stay out of the Disney sun.
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Amanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.
Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast.
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