The last two weeks have been kind of crazy, balancing work, family, making new gear, dehydrating food and a final shakedown on the Superior Hiking Trail with an amazing group of women.
I plan to post on our trip prep soon, but am starting with an update on my previous post about Hiker’s rash. It’s neck and neck with Make your Own Ultralight Backpack for most popular spot on the WP Blog as of today. As odd as it may be to write about your rash on the internet…by putting it out there, I’ve realized that this is a condition that affects a lot of people, without much medical info on treatment or prevention. Sharing has been encouraging and has also dispelled my fears about it.
I also had some official testing done by my primary care doc just to rule out thyroid, vasculitis and unhealthy inflammation issues during a regular visit. All tests came back negative…so it’s not anything more serious. Mom always said I was special.
I posted a question on a couple of Facebook groups I’m in, looking for anyone who had Hikers rash and had successfully dealt with it for consecutive days hiking or backpacking on the trail. Typically, I take a day to recover whenever I have had it, so I was a little worried about it showing up on a long trip.
I received close to 200 responses ranging from “oh, that’s what that is”, to switching to drinking only ionized water and changing my socks or laundry soap. A health reporter from the Duluth News Tribune also reached out to me for an interview and a photo shoot on the trail. Luckily I didn’t NOT have a rash to photograph that day.
The most encouraging advice was from a couple of AT Thru-hikers who had this and told me that their rash resolved itself on the trail over time and with regular leg soaks and antihistamines. Whew! I was starting to get a little concerned that this would affect my comparatively short 2-3 week hike. That’s what I needed to hear.
In addition to the remedies in my original post, here are some of the suggestions I’ve tried since or will be filing away for future reference:
- Soak legs in cold water ASAP and frequently during hiking breaks. I actually tried this last weekend and it stopped that rash in it tracks!
- Elevate elevate elevate. Hung my hammock on breaks and tried to get my legs up whenever I stopped.
- Apply Aloe Vera Gel. This works to relieve the heat and burning and I now carry a small bottle of it with me in the first aid kit. I don’t care if it’s a little heavy as a gel, it works…and works for burns too.
- Apply Lavender oil-I tried this at home as a spray and it relieved the burning almost instantly, slightly numbing the area. Plus it smells great. I probably won’t bring any on the trail, I don’t need any bears sniffing my legs at night!
- Air out your legs! I naively tested out some waterproof socks for about 3 miles (because I thought it was going to rain) and my legs got super hot and itchy. I rolled them down quick and got my legs in the water as soon as I could and the red welts that were starting to appear subsided after a 20-30 minute soak in the river. I still think compression socks help, just make sure they are not SUPER tight and that they breathe.
- Other untested but intriguing suggestions include: Arnica Gel, witch hazel, slowing down, Sarna lotion, acupuncture and fish oil.
So, today, I’m not on the trail, camp or in my cubicle. I’m babysitting another dehydrator full of food and nursing a husband that had emergency gall bladder surgery yesterday. It’s not the week at Scout Camp that I had planned, but it’s life…and it’s good. I’m taking this opportunity to slow down a little and be exactly where I know I’m supposed to be.
Enjoy this last month of Summer and keep those boots (or shoes) dirty!