Exercise-Induced Vasculitis

As a long-distance runner, walker or mountain climber, you need extra care in hot weather. Though your calf muscles have a temperature regulation pump, exercising in hot weather could suddenly affect this pump. Once this happens, an inflammatory condition characterized by red rashes and swelling in your lower leg referred to as exercise-induced vasculitis results. You are more likely to develop exercise-induced vasculitis if you engage in particularly prolonged or strenuous exercise. The inflammatory changes usually spare the skin compressed by your socks.

Man running through field (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

EIV Misdiagnosis

You could develop exercise-induced vasculitis even if you weren't previously sick. The condition could also be a pointer to hidden illnesses. That's what happened in a June 2009 report published in "Cutis." An elderly lady who had suffered repeated episodes of exercise-induced vasculitis was seen by doctors on many occasions. Unfortunately, recurrent exercise-related rashes present on her legs went unnoticed. The presence of the same rashes on the legs of her sister also failed to raise eyebrows. This double case of exercise-induced vasculitis therefore went unnoticed for many years.

Symptoms of EIV

People suffering from exercise-induced vasculitis experience several symptoms. To help you identify exercise-induced vasculitis, always remember that areas compressed by socks are usually spared by the developing inflammation. Also, look for red rashes and papules that could be quite itchy and sometimes painful or causing a burning sensation. Though the symptoms usually resolve within a few days, frequent relapses are possible.

Prevention and Treatment

The surest way to prevent exercise-induced vasculitis is to completely avoid exercise. Since this is not advisable, however, you cannot completely eliminate the risk of developing the condition. Because EIV symptoms typically spare areas compressed by your socks, wearing a compressive hose is generally recommended. Despite these measures, however, some people still develop repeated episodes of this condition, making medical intervention by way of anti-edema medications and manual lymph drainage inevitable.

Emerging New Facts

Exercise-induced vasculitis was considered an exclusively hot weather-related condition. However, this view is now changing as evidenced in a report published in the March 2011 "Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research" by Italian researchers -- Davide Basso and colleagues. They reported the occurrence of persistent exercise-induced vasculitis in a 16-year old swimmer. They concluded that it is possible for exercise-induced vasculitis to result from water sports despite the fact that muscle temperatures do not rise in such sports as in land sports.

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