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.

img_2024.jpgI 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.

Day 1: Hives (this was a particularly bad one 2 years ago)


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.

fullsizeoutput_1eadIn 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:

  1. 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!
  2. Elevate elevate elevate.   Hung my hammock on breaks and tried to get my legs up whenever I stopped.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!



8 thoughts on “Update on Hikers Rash and More Thru Hike Prep

  1. Sounds like you got some good responses… cold water soaks, antihistamines, and aloe vera sounds good to me. How long do you expect to be on SHT thru-hike?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always a good idea to try out aloe vera in advance, as it makes some people itch and possibly get a rash. Like me 🙂 Oh man, does it make me itch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for posting about this condition. I’ve had it for years and no doctor I’ve seen has ever even heard of it. I have to tell them what it is after finally figuring it out myself by reading posts like yours. Mine usually flares with playing tennis in the heat, although it will also flare with any heat exposure if I’m on my feet, walking or standing. Compression has so far been curative for me, with prevention being key. Once a flare commences, it takes days or even weeks to calm down completely. I wear compression sleeves any time I’ll be exercising in temps above 80 degrees and standard compression hosiery for going about daily activities when temps are predicted to be much above 90 degrees, which is most every summer day where I live. The full athletic compression socks were a non-starter: too tight in the toe box, too too thin, too slippery. I need my activity-specific cushioned Thorlo socks inside my shoes for hiking or tennis, although if I’m wearing street clothes and just going about daily activities, good quality standard compression hosiery is fine inside regular sandals or shoes.

    I never thought of cold soaks or antihistamines! I’ll add those to my arsenal.

    Happy Trails to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this post ,I’m a 64 yr old male long distance hiker, troubled with hikers rash .some good ideas in your post to try. Cold ,wet hike in tke smokies yesterday, liner sock, darn tough and gaiters and RASH ,!


    1. Bummer! Sorry to hear that! I have found that its all trial and error but elevating on breaks and trying to get the legs in cold water helps. Maybe try a compression sock instead of gaiters and see how they feel? Happy hiking and good luck to you in the smokies!


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