Looking After Your Feet: How Can You Avoid Exercise-Induced Purpura When Hiking?

Following a hike, some walkers may experience red patches on their feet, ankles and/or calves. The first thing that comes to mind is an allergy but, in a lot of cases, it turns out to be exercise-induced purpura. So, what is it?

Looking After Your Feet: How Can You Avoid Exercise-Induced Purpura When Hiking?
1. What is Exercise-Induced Purpura?

This newly discovered phenomenon is often unknown to the general public. In fact, non-specialist doctors often have little knowledge about this condition. Exercise-induced purpura is also known as exercise-induced vasculitis, marathon-runner's vasculitis, or golfer's rash (particularly in Australia) for reasons you will discover.

It's characterized by the appearance of skin lesions similar to those seen after strenuous exercise (such as an ultra marathon). Symptoms vary with patients sometimes complaining of pain or a burning sensation.

2. When Does it Occur?

Multiple factors may contribute to the development of this condition.

Prolonged exercise involves significant energy expenditure, elevated muscle temperature (up to 106°F), vasodilation, an accumulation of lactic acid, increased blood viscosity, inflammation, and muscle and skin injuries. These factors can result in microcirculatory deficiency.

It can also affect hikers with no prior medical history. Once you've suffered one episode, you are more susceptible to further relapses.

3. Can it be Avoided?

Depending on the individual patient, treatment may include wearing compression stockings, taking vasoconstrictor medication or the administration of corticosteroids to help blood circulation. We recommend consulting a dermatologist in order to find the most suitable treatment.

4. Good to Know

Purpura can sometimes be confused with erythema. This common skin inflammation also causes a rash.

To tell the difference, you can carry out the following test: press on the lesion using a glass (spectacle lens, magnifying glass, transparent glass cup etc.). If the rash disappears, it is probably erythema (confirm with your doctor) and not purpura.

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