Hiker Rash Will Ruin Your Day—and Here’s How to Prevent It
In this post, we look at 7 ways to prevent hiker rash whenso that you never have to deal with this again!
If you’ve ever hiked for more than an hour, then you know that it can get uncomfortable when wearing the wrong clothes or shoes. From your shoes causing hotspots and blisters to your feet, to your pants feeling like they’re cutting off your circulation, there are a lot of ways that hiking can be uncomfortable.
And if you add in the fact that you are under the sun and sweat, it makes things even worse. What’s more, if you’re not careful, this can mean developing a hikers rash. Also, hikers can develop a itchy red rash at their sock line too.
These rashes don’t last long, but they can be very painful and make it hard to continue on with the hike without worrying about whether or not the rash will get worse.
Rashes that affect hikers
There are a few types of rashes that can affect hikers. As a hiker, read up causes of rashes, such as athletes foot, jock itch, allergic reactions, poison ivy, oak, sumac, and Lyme disease.
Other rashes, such as heat rash or prickly heat, is caused by humid weather and skin-to-skin rubbing or from clothing. This leads to chafing and irritation. Annoying indeed, but harmless.
What is hikers rash?
Hiker’s rash, is a skin condition also known as Exercise Induced Vasculitis, golfer’s rash, or golfer’s vasculitis. Symptoms can include a painful red rash, raised welts, that appears on the sock line, lower legs, and up to the thighs. Other symptoms can be a burning sensation or pain, skin discoloration can be bright red.
Why Does Hiker’s Rash Happen?
A rash occurs because the small blood vessels become inflamed from working too hard to cool the skin down. As a result, the blood vessels don’t work well to circulate the blood to your heart, so it pools in the lower legs.
Exercise induced vasculitis
You don’t need to be a hiking trail in hot weather to develop hiker’s rash. Extended lengths of working out or sun exposure while golfing or walking a theme park (“disney rash”) can cause hiker’s rash skin conditions. This reddish rash often appears on exposed skin affect the lower legs of people who spend a lot of time walking or hiking, from prolonged exercise, especially in hot weather.
Prevent Hiker Rash – Measures You Can Take
There are several ways to prevent hiker’s rash. Read our tips below to keep hiker’s rash at bay.
Stay out of the Heat
Hikers rash is caused by a skin reactions to the heat, and it can make for a pretty uncomfortable hike. That’s why it’s important to stay out of the direct sun, during your hike, especially if you’re going out on a sunny day.
Wear sunscreen with a high SPF protection. But even with sunscreen, you still need to keep yourself protected in other ways.
Wear breathable fabrics
Wear light clothing and keep your skin covered, (but not too much!). You don’t want anything too tight or too loose; hiking clothes that breathe, feel good against your body and keeps air flowing through.
Pick clothing that is breathable, durable, moisture-wicking with sun protection. If you’re going to be hiking for several hours, then you need to pick fabrics that are designed for the trails. Long Sleeve Sun protection shirts and the right summertime hiking outfits (yes, you can be stylish) helps keep you cool and rash free.
What’s more, heavy fabrics trap your sweat and make things even worse.
Replace cotton underwear with antimicrobial merino wool hiking underwear. Wool regulates body temperature and absorbs moisture efficiently.
To prevent hiker’s rash, it’s important to wear sunscreen and keep your legs covered with hiking pants. Remember a heat is a factor in causing rashes, because the small blood vessels overheat since they can’t keep up with bringing oxygen to your leg muscles.
However, even then, it’s important to make sure that you’re wearing fabrics that breathe properly. Otherwise, you’ll end up soaking your pants in sweat which can lead a heat rash forming below your belt line.
Hiking Pants with Ventilation
These pants are made with lightweight, synthetic fabric that keeps your legs cool and wick away sweat while you’re hiking. If you wear these pants, you’ll notice that the sweat doesn’t sit in your pants and cause a rash. Instead, sweat evaporates right away, cooling you off in the process.
But if your hiking pants don’t breathe at all, then you might want to replace them with a new pair. Read our article: Best hiking pants out there that have mesh openings or moisture-wicking fabric.
That being said, make sure that you’re wearing pants that fit properly. Wearing pants that are too loose can cause friction as you walk which can lead to a rash too!
Use chafing-reducing products
Use anti-chafe balm or anti-friction cream to reduce irritation caused by rubbing. You can use products like Body Glide Body or Zone Naturals Chub Rub and apply them anywhere fabric or your skin rubs together.
These balms help to minimize hiker’s rash, blisters, redness, and chafing from exercise induced rash or fabrics against your body. This is why it’s important to apply chafing-reducing cream to areas where clothing rubs more. Such as the neck, collarbone, bra line, waist line, inner thighs, arm pits, ankles, and feet.
Any of these products you can easily carry in your hiking daypack and apply before you hit the trail. We’ve listed a few options such as body lube, or balms, below to for you to choose the best balm for rash prevention.
Make sure that you apply the product to all of the areas where you’re experiencing the rash. If you only apply it to one area, then it won’t do as much good. More specifically, apply the product before you put on clothes, stopping the rash from starting. The last thing you want to do is start a hike with a rash and then try to soothe it with a chafe-reducing product.
Change Out of Wet Clothes
Make sure that you change out of your wet clothes as soon as you can. If you can, carry a set of dry clothing and change out of wet clothes before you continue hiking. Wet clothes moisture can cause friction and and form a rash.
If you’re hiking in warm weather, then wear clothes are sweat wicking. Fabrics such as cotton retain moisture and eventually your clothing will be wet. Once your hiking clothes are wet, you’re at risk of developing a hike’s rash because they’ll be rubbing against your skin.
That said, don’t make the mistake of buying cheap hiking clothes. Instead, make sure that your hiking clothing are high-quality, durable, and sweat wicking. Also check the seams since these are potential areas that can cause friction. Unquestionably, it is always better to spend money (within your budget) on quality and good hiking clothes.
Wearing Compression socks
Encourage blood flow and excess fluid build up by wearing compression socks.
The proper socks are an important part of any hike. Not only to they keep your feet dand ry, toes comfortable, and can even help to prevent blisters and hiker’s rash too. When you wear compression socks, they aid to prevent fluid buildup in your lower legs.
While they may not prevent hikers rash altogether, the compression socks and sweat wicking clothing help you to stay dry. Yes, some of these tips have been repeated, but protecting the skin from the sun is one of the best ways to avoid hikers rash.
If your legs don’t swell, it’s still helpful to wear hiking wool socks because they keep your feet dry and stay in place for long hikes. These top sellers BlueMaple compression socks and FuelMeFoot Copper Compression socks can be found on Amazon.
Check out our tips on best socks for hiking article to keep blister-free.
Drink lots of water at least 2 liters or more per day. Using a hydration bladder is the best way to stay hydrated and another way to prevent hiker’s rash.
Dehydration is one of the biggest contributors to hikers rash, so make sure you drink plenty of water. This will also help prevent other problems like heat exhaustion or stroke.
To illustrate, your body loses water when you sweat to cool down which can lead to dehydration and overheating. By drinking water, you allow your body to continue to stay healthy on hikes.
Elevate Your Feet
Take breaks and get off your feet. An all-day hike or backpacking trip doesn’t mean you stay on your feet all day long. In order to prevent hiker’s rash, schedule reminders for rest days in your backpacking itinerary and include time to take a break during hikes
Check for ticks
A typical allergic reaction to a tick bite will look like red bumps or soreness, swelling, and redness in the bite area. It can look like a hiker’s rash but you should seek medical treatment if symptoms are more than a rash.
It’s important to check for ticks after you’ve been hiking for a few hours. Ticks are found in damp and shady environments, hanging out in woody grassy areas and low shrubs where it’s easy to jump on their next victim. So how to prevent tick bites?
- Know where to expect ticks.
- Spray your hiking clothing, socks, shoes, and gear with permethrin.
- Wear tick repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone but this is not 100% effective. Ticks also hate the scent of orange, lemon, lavender, rose, geranium, peppermint, and cinnamon. All of those scents come in a concentrated oil format that you can mix with almond oil and apply to your body.
Because ticks can cause serious issues, its best to prevent bites before they happen. Wear light-colored, long trail pants and a sun hat, which allows you to see ticks easier and doesn’t give them any skin to bite.
That said, check for ticks in the damp and moist areas hard-to-see areas of the body. Ticks will hide in arm pits, groin, scalp, behind the ear, between your fingers and toes. In addition to those areas, scan your clothing for any that are hitchhiking on your clothes. If you do find a tick on your clothing or body, then remove them immediately with easily with fine-tipped tweezers or tick removal tool like ZenPet Tick Tornado
Generally, it takes about 36-48 hours for Lyme disease bacteria to be transmitted. If you find one on your skin, then remove the tick immediately with proper tick removal techniques so you don’t spread any diseases.
Here are some ways to treat hiker’s rash:
- Cool bath: Soaking in cool or cold water may help relieve the itching from the rash and allow the overheated temperature regulation mechanisms within leg muscles to function properly.
- Topical corticosteroids: These creams can be applied directly to the affected area to reduce inflammation, redness and itching. You can buy them over-the-counter at any pharmacy or online through Amazon , Walmart and Target. Also, they’re usually inexpensive too!
- Ice pack: If you don’t have access to a topical corticosteroid cream, then an ice pack cools down the skin, reducing the swelling and redness symptoms.
- Aloe vera gel can cool your legs
- Use an antihistamine to reduce inflammation
- Elevate your legs
Final Thoughts on Preventing Heat Rash
The most important thing to remember to prevent rashes when hiking is to keep an eye out for them. If you start to feel a rash coming on, then try to take steps to soothe it. But if the rash doesn’t go away, you’ll want to make sure that you take steps prevent it from getting worse and treat it./
Prepare ahead of time and condition your body with exercises to make your legs, back, and core muscles strong enough to carry a heavy pack. If it’s been a while since you’ve hiked for long hours on any type of trail or multi day hike trip, then you are likely to develop hiker’s rash.
Most of these rashes can be avoided with a little bit of attention and care. Once you’ve gotten rid of the hiker’s rash, make sure that you take care to not overheat on the next hike. You don’t want to have to deal with this problem again.
Here are some links to our most popular articles:
Last update on 2022-09-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API