What Is The Dreaded Disney Rash And How Can You Avoid It?

A vacation to Disney allows you to scratch your itch for thrilling rides, real-life mermaids, and Mickey-shaped waffles. But what if you're enjoying your long-awaited vacation when suddenly, there's an itch you can't scratch? Is it a mosquito bite? (Probably not, as Disney World is remarkably mosquito-free.) Perhaps you're having a reaction to the copious amounts of candy you devoured earlier. Or maybe you have the dreaded Disney rash.

Common side effects of visiting the most magical place on Earth are shouts of joy and eyes filled with wonder. But uncomfortable itchy rashes are another. Disney rash is a nickname for exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV), which isn't an actual rash at all (per Healthline). EIV is a skin disorder involving inflamed blood vessels in the legs. Sufferers typically have blotchy red patches on their lower legs and swelling in their calves and ankles. Thankfully, Disney rash is harmless, but it can be uncomfortable, painful, and unattractive.

Making Disney a bit less magical

EIV isn't confined to Disney visitors. It has other names, including golfer's rash and hiker's rash. It occurs when people engage in prolonged physical activity in hot, sunny weather, like walking around a theme park in Florida for hours, say, or stomping around 18 holes on a golf course.

Aside from the red patches and swelling that people get with EIV, many sufferers also have itching and burning, red and purple spots, and raised welts. The lucky ones among us may not feel anything and have only visible symptoms. Disney rash only tends to occur on exposed skin, often stopping at a person's sock line. EIV is also more common in women who are over 50. The rash is not contagious and will clear up on its own between three and 10 days after you remove yourself from the conditions that caused it (in our example, that's exploring Disney World, unfortunately).

How to avoid Disney rash

Are you doomed to get Disney rash on your next visit to the theme park? Maybe not. There are several things you can do to help prevent EIV. One way is to build in rest breaks throughout the day, preferably in cool areas out of direct sunlight. Think of it as your excuse to spend more time in the air-conditioned gift shops while other people stand in line for you — it's doctor's orders.

Drink lots of water and try not to eat too much salt (sorry, pretzel-lovers). Wearing light, loose-fitting clothing and covering your legs to avoid sun exposure may also help. One study found that wearing compression socks or stockings might help you avoid Disney rash. However, they can be uncomfortable in the heat, so you can probably save wearing compression socks for when you fly. Anecdotally, one poster in Reddit's r/Ultralight forum said drinking tart cherry juice and taking tart cherry supplements (for their anti-inflammatory properties) helped them prevent Disney rash.

If these preventative measures don't work and you begin to feel the burn, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. Step one: Leave Disney. Step two: Recover within 10 days. We're (kind of) joking. Resting will likely help, as will elevating your legs when you can and drinking water. Certain over-the-counter medications may help relieve symptoms, including antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Ibuprofen. If you're really uncomfortable, head to one of Disney's first-aid centers. It won't be their first rodeo.