Leaping lizards. Lately, my skin has started to look rather reptilian post-run. My legs, particularly in that groove where my shins and calves join,and on the knobs of my knees, are raising bumps that would put Tom Bombadil’s abode to shame (he lived in a mound, right? Maybe a hill? Maybe a butte? Maybe I need a different simile?). Suffice it to say that after I run I’ve been prone to itchy lumps that resemble bug bites and want to kick it old school with me for thirty or so minutes. What the hey?
Now if I had zilch to do after a run, this wouldn’t bother me. But I’ve got to shower and dress, and darn it if those bumps make the idea of trapping my legs in work-pants (or God forbid, skinny jeans) is about as appealing as drinking toothpaste stew. So, time to research.
First up, I recalled that the first time these little bump-a-roos showed up was a few weeks back when Grant rolled through town and we did a 15-miler. I’d worn my usual black pants (some fancy Nike digs that are two and a half years old and in gang-buster shape), but back at the homestead, I wondered if I had rolled them in poison oak prior to our run. Post shower, still with sadpanda legs, I showed Grant the hot zone, and he suggested heat rash.
Running on that theory, I hit up the local Mayo Clinic website (that’s a www, Aunt Bon) to see if Grant was on the right track (he’s a doctor of music, not dermatology); turns out, he was. Here’s the thing: there are various types of heat rash one can encounter. They have fluffy medical names that you can look up if you’re feeling super science-nerd, but what’s really interesting is there is a heat rash specifically related to exercise: miliaria profunda. We’ll come back to that in a second.
First, know there is another heat-rash called miliaria rubra whose yummy symptoms are as follows:
Occurring deeper in the outer layer of skin (epidermis), miliaria rubra is sometimes called prickly heat. Adults usually develop miliaria rubra after they’re exposed to hot, humid weather or if they’re confined to bed rest. Infants usually develop this type of heat rash between the first and third weeks of life. Signs and symptoms typically include:
- Red bumps
- Itchy or prickly feeling in the affected area
- Little or no sweating in the affected areas (anhidrosis)
A less common form of heat rash, miliaria profunda occurs mainly in adults who have had repeat bouts of miliaria rubra. It affects the dermis, a deeper layer of skin, and appears soon after exercise or any activity that causes sweating. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Firm, flesh-colored lesions that resemble goose bumps
- A lack of perspiration, which may lead to symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, nausea and a rapid pulse