The Science Behind Exercise Induced Itch

I have never really ran per say on a treadmill before. Whenever I exercise, I would either fast walk on one of those bad boys, use the elliptical, weights, or a group exercise class. I don’t have very much time, energy, or resources to do some of my favorite fit friendly activities ever since I moved, but my complex does have a treadmill. After a week of practice and learning how to balance, I can say I have conquered my fear of slipping and falling on a treadmill while running! What I did notice was that my thighs and stomach itched like crazy after exercising, and I didn’t know why!

Of course I did a Google to this, and I found that this answer was commonly posted on forums, one of which was Health Central:

“Itchy skin usually occurs during exercise performed after a long period of inactivity. The itching is not on the skin, it’s inside the actual limbs. There are millions of tiny capillaries and arteries inside our muscles which expand rapidly due to the demand for more blood that is brought on by exercise. When fit, these capillaries remain open allowing maximum blood passage, but when unfit and inactive they tend to collapse, allowing only minimal blood passage (which is sufficient for a sedentary person however). The rapid expansion of these vessels causes adjacent nerves to send impulses back to the brain which are interpreted as an itch. That’s why after a few sessions the sensation tends to go away. Just another indication of increasing fitness levels.”

This sounded pretty plausible to me, considering I’ve been pretty lazy for the past few months with respect to visiting the gym, but I still wanted to find where this information came from! I have had to tried to search a source for this quote, but I couldn’t find a direct one. The closet one I found is this LiveStrong article on how exercise can cause itching. They mention that irritants or chemicals on your clothes or equipment that you come into contact with may cause your skin to get upset. Also, funky fungus might find it opportunistic to grow with all the moisture building up from sweat. Finally, the article mentions there is even an “allergy” to exercise that increases nerve activity.


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If you find a solid article or related information on the exercise-itch phenomenon, please leave a comment below 🙂


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