I can't run because my skin is too itchy!


Novice Member
I promise this isn't a joke but I think I am allergic to exercise.

I'm in my 30's, pretty slim and haven't been able to run since I was a teenager.
I'm still active, I enjoy hiking and rock climbing, but when I hike I have to be slow are careful.

If my stomp my feet too heavily, even slightly, my thighs and calves will start to itch a little.
At first I can ignore it. If I slow right down to a snail pace it will ease, but if I try and push on, the itchiness soon turns to pain and the level of pain keeps rising and rising until it beats me.
I've tried to push through it before and basically ended in agony and unable to move for a while

Fortunately, when I stop moving, the pain soon eases and if I'm slow and careful I can continue, but it will normally come back once it's been triggered that day.

I want to stress, I'm not whining about a mild irritation here. I'm fine pushing through normal levels of pain. I push myself pretty hard rock climbing and hiked 60km though Papua New Guinea to give an example.

I generally find that for a long hike, if I'm careful for the first hour, I can pretty much do what I want for the rest of the day apart form running and I'll be fine.

I get it a little on my arms as well when riding a bike on rough terrain.

Really odly, I had a crack at squash a few years ago. Now I was very stompy playing squash on a hard surface and nothing. I was absolutely fine. Makes no sense.

What the hell is it and how to I stop it? Why does my skin flare up in pain when I expose it to repetitive vibrations?

When it happens there are no obvious marks on my skin. No abnormal blotching or redness or hives.
Antihistamines don't seem to help.
Sometimes I even get it just walking down a high street and I have to hobble over to a bench and sit it out. I prefer metal benches as the cooling seems to help.
It seems to be more common in the mornings and when its cool and wet, but there have been exceptions to this.

I want to train for a 60km hike in Snowdonia, but I'm really out of shape and finding the time with kids is difficult, especially since I can't go for a power hike for an hour in the evening after work due to my exercise allergy.

Any theories or secret cures would be much appreciated.

Note: I haven't been to a GP. I may do this soon, but to be honest, they'll probably just think I'm an idiot that should just avoid active sports and come back when I have a serious health issue.


Novice Member
Do you drink?
These days, Hardly any. I have 2 kids under 4 so just don't have time for drinking and can't risk the hangover. I still get itchy legs however.

How do you react to alcohol?
It depends what I drink. If I want to be functional the next day I will stick to spirits. Wine in any quantity more than a couple of glasses makes me feel like I have food poisoning. Beer is a lucky dip. Sometimes I can have quite a few pints and be fine, other times, one or two pints and I'm sick as a dog the next day for the whole day. Again food poisoning type symptoms. So I avoid beer if I'm planning on more than one.

Does it make you itchy in any way?
I've never noticed this in any way whilst drinking, but I vaguely recall from my University days that I would get the itchy legs more quickly whilst walking if I had alcohol the previous day.


Well-known Member
In the nicest possible way: Go to your GP. They’re not going to think you’re an idiot. That’s what they’re there for.

I don’t know what us AV geeks could possibly tell you 🙂


Well-known Member
Yep go see your GP and get a blood test with any luck.

The itching may be liver related, do you get itchy when going to sleep?


Active Member
I normally do AVF on my tablet but I have specifically logged in on my PC so I can type properly to give you a decent response. It will be a long post so strap in! :laugh:

I don’t know what us AV geeks could possibly tell you 🙂

Whilst @Graham27 is obviously right it certainly doesn't hurt to go to the doctors armed with the right information. It took me 23 years to get the right diagnosis of my condition and it only really got anywhere when I moved house away from the town I grew up in and thus changed GP's. I also had to self-diagnose it from my own liver blood tests (LFT's) done for a different reason and ask the GP to do another set of LFT's. @Belzok is thinking along the same lines, I can tell by his questioning. This is my condition:

Gilbert's Syndrome (it is said in the French manner as jill-berrs)

It commonly starts in your late teens, for me I can specifically state exactly when as it was when I joined the Canoe Club at University aged 19. I had been a swimmer all my life and a Junior Lifeguard but whenever I got in the pool to train with the Canoe Club at Uni, I was a mess for 24hrs after. I'd never been "allergic" to anything before yet I was having an "allergic reaction" to the chlorine in the pool. My face gets really itchy to the point where I want to pull my own skin off, my eyes start streaming, itchy throat, constant sneezing and my nose runs like I am in the full flow of a cold. Desloratidine 5mg helped and if I didn't get water up my nose during eskimo rolls, I was also less affected.

At the same time as the above, I started getting similar symptoms when I drank red wine. Not white, beers or spirits, just red. But obviously, I love red wine! The symptoms occurred within 20 minutes not the next day. A year or two later and suddenly white wines are affecting me too, rose I'm ok with. Then came some beers, not all brands, and rose. So there I was, not knowing what I'm "allergic" to and just drinking a few beers and cocktails! I did occasionally drink red/white and the other beers but I knew it would cost me.

So I'm now a commercial airline pilot with a Class 1 medical and it then worsens to dust and my own circadian rhythms starting to affect me. :censored: These you can't choose not to have! About 3-4am every night I go off for about an hour as I have a nasal spray I can use if I get in early enough before my nose runs so hard there's no point! With this and the dust, I basically appear to have a really bad cold ALL.THE.TIME! In fact, when I had colds/flu as well, it was just awful. I was constantly asked if I was well enough to fly and people don't want to be around a guy who looks like he has a nasty cold and is sneezing (loudly) and blowing his nose constantly. If it wasn't for Kleenex Ultrabalm (no other tissue compares and I've tested everything) my nose would have been so sore I couldn't have hidden it at all. And this is how I lived for 15 or so years.

I had countless doctor visits and was changed to Cetirizine Hydrochloride but nothing helped. And then I moved house to a nice village in the country. End of Oct I switched the heating on and I was F*cked. We couldn't clean the house enough, I couldn't function or sleep and I went to my new GP's in despair! He referred me to the QMC Hospital to have allergy tests and behold, I'm not allergic to anything. This is important as to be allergic to something mean it affects you every single time, whereas I could have good and bad days. I couldn't drink any alcohol generally at this point as all kinds affected me but I could sometimes drink a couple of pints and be fine. The specialist diagnosed me with Non-Allergenic Rhinitis which was great to have a label but after fully understanding it, I realised it means they don't know what I am allergic to but I have all the symptoms! He could see it was so bad that he prescribed me double the safe doses of pills and nasal sprays and eye drops simultaneously! Luckily-ish I was not flying as the UK CAA would not have allowed it. 4 months later and I lose my sense of smell and taste which is quite unnerving when you've been a super-taster all your life (when not using antihistamines). My sense of smell was so great as a kid that I had a party trick where I could identify a meal from a fart! :clap: Due to losing my senses, I stopped all treatments and had to wait a miserable 9 months for my smell and taste to return.

I was back to not functioning and hardly sleeping so went back to my GP. It is not an understatement to say that this particular visit to the doctors changed my life. He prescribed me with Fexofenadine Hydrochloride which I'd never had previously and Betamethasone 0.1% steroid nose drops for 7 days. On the very first drop of that steriod in my nose in just one nostril, my quality of life improved immensely, literally in seconds! I went back to the GP just to feedback/analyze the results of the drugs and it turns out I had an inflamed olfactory bulb and the steriod had immediately reduced that. With the 7 days of steriods reducing the inflammation and taking a single Fexofenadine at 18:00 instead of the morning, I am able to be like a normal person! If I want to drink with the Round Table lads, I just take my nasal spray too and I'm ok. After a while the symptoms reappear but I just do another 7 days of the Betamethasone and this is only about once per annum. I'm still on the original bottle which ran out in 2016 but works just as well now. I also can't believe all the fuss people make about colds/flu. Now when I get a cold, I can barely tell.

There was still no diagnosis but my life was basically normal. That was until I started experiencing neurological symptoms one of which was a kind of "fogginess". This led to LFT's to eliminate some obvious conditions before referral to a neurologist. My GP said that the results were fine so without any obvious issues referred me. This took a while and when I went to the neurologist he examined me but also wanted more bloods. My GP had also changed its IT systems during this time and all my records are now available online for me to read going right back to my vaccinations as a baby. This meant I could read the LFT results for both samples taken 18mths apart. Whilst in the initial bloods I had elevated Bilirubin levels they were only 28 which is just over normal (<21 umol/L normal) and this had not concerned my GP. Then, the neurologist wasn't looking for Bilirubin and although my levels were now 43 it wasn't flagged. My GP didn't look at the bloods taken at the hospital so they could not see the issue until I made them aware of it. Further LFT's to confim which came in at 47 and with no other blood issues, lead me to suggest to the GP, Gilbert's to which he agreed was most likely. The "fogginess" is also a symptom some experience with Gilbert's.

Gilbert's Syndrome is not really considered much by Doctors as it is relatively benign as far as they are concerned having no mortality and the gene mutation being relatively common (approx 1:20) but this is because it has not been studied much! Yes, people will have it and may not have many symptoms with it but for me I had a significant loss of quality of life. Had we known earlier rather than treating it as allergies, we could have done more specific testing and understood the life changes to control it. Although it is basically treated in a similar way to allergies, you needed to find the treatment to suit you.

I'm not saying this is what you have but some of it may resonate with you and as @Belzok says, go and get some LFT's!

The important thing is to be as methodical as possible and approach the problem in a scientific manner. As an engineer, my brain is wired like that and I approach every issue scientifically. Every time I had an apparent reaction to something new I tested it again. I.e. a night of only drinking reds, recover, a night of only whites, recover, beer etc. (it was hard I tell ya! :p), but seriously you need to isolate, analyse and eliminate. So in your case, are you wearing trousers or shorts? Fabric conditioner/wash powder? I can't use Biological detergents, but Fairy Non-Bio is fine.




Well-known Member
As @CaptainNick said go to the GP to see what they say, hopefully a bloodtrst will show up the cause.

I've spent a very uncomfortable few weeks in hospital with pruritus thanks to a dodgy bile duct and bilirubin, which is dead red blood cells, from the liver going to the skin, not the stomach as its meant to.

An LFT, liver function test, would hopefully show that.

Pruritus is aggravated by heat which links with running I had a very severe case and just before sleeping it ramped up significantly for me.

I was literally tearing holes in my skin from the itchiness, one of the worst things I've gone through in my life.


At the end of last year I had terrible itching around my midriff and upper legs, like I could rip my skin off, I came to associate it with multi vitamins. I stopped taking them, it stopped. I started taking another brand, it started again. Ive stopped taking them now and its stopped, it came on at night more than anything. I really want to take multi vitamins so want to try again. I also know that its a peri menopausal symptom too, itching I mean but obviously thats not your problem!


Active Member
I have Gilbert's syndrome and I am sure it is responsible for a lot of my woes.

To the OP.. I have a really unusual problem whereby I get a migraine/headache after exercise. I've had it for 2 years now and I've had blood tests and an MRI and the neurologist essentially said I'm not dieing and basically don't exercise.

I miss exercise so much.


Distinguished Member
Sorry to thread hijack but wanted to say thanks to @CaptainNick and @essgee - I’ve recently been diagnosed with Gilberts and didn’t really know it can cause these symptoms. Explains a lot!

To OP - I still run a fair bit though!

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