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Reasons for Itching and Burning Legs During Exercising

author image Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.
Reasons for Itching and Burning Legs During Exercising
A runner is holding his knee. Photo Credit: m-gucci/iStock/Getty Images

If your legs itch and burn during or after exercise, you may have a condition called urticaria. It is often referred to as an exercise allergy and causes your skin to break out into hives. You may also flush and feel very itchy. Once you receive a diagnosis for this condition, it's important to eliminate your triggers while still getting the exercise you need to stay healthy.

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Exercise Types

Certain types of exercise could cause your urticaria symptoms to flare up more than others. According to a study published in "American Family Physician," symptoms spring up more often when you perform activities such as volleyball, dancing and skiing. Sometimes, the reactions can be severe and cause you to progress past the point of itchy burning skin to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is the dangerous escalation of an allergic reaction that causes swelling of the air pathways, shortness of breath, wheezing and even death. You need to be prepared to call 911 or have an epinephrine injector handy if your allergies are this severe. Perform a variety of exercise activities to figure out which ones trigger your symptoms. Avoid these in favor of other activities that don't cause your symptoms.

Food May Be To Blame

In some cases, it is a combination of food and exercise that cause the urticaria, says "American Family Physician." Foods that have been identified as likely triggers including tomatoes, wheat, cheese, celery and seafood. However, your specific triggers may be different. Keep a food journal for several weeks and monitor what you've eaten before exercise sessions. If you notice patterns, don't eat these trigger foods for several hours before exercising.


Prescription antihistamines may be all you need to treat your urticaria and to eliminate the itching and burning in your legs during exercise. If your urticaria is severe and you start to choke, wheeze or suffer swelling, you may be advised to carry epinephrine with you at all times in case of anaphylaxis.

Lifestyle Changes

Simply making modifications to your lifestyle could be all you need to avoid urticaria. For instance, avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs before working out because they've been linked to triggering breakouts. Likewise, you shouldn't exercise again until all of your symptoms from the previous allergy attack have subsided. If your urticaria is unavoidable to some degree, always exercise with a friend in case you go into anaphylaxis.

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