When you visit a Disney park, you’re probably thinking of the rides you’ll enjoy, the souvenirs you’ll pick up (Mickey ears and Spirit Jerseys, of course!), and the incredible memories you’ll make. But you may be surprised to know that you could be heading home with one more thing – the infamous Disney Rash.
I know it sounds scary, but try not to get too concerned. You’ll want to keep this rash in mind when you hit the parks so that you can treat it ASAP, but it really isn’t as bad as it seems!
When I first heard about this phenomenon, I kept asking myself “what is Disney Rash?!” as it had never happened to me before. But in recent years, people have started coming home from their Disney trips with an uncomfortable rash on their bodies.
It typically appears on peoples’ legs and ankles after visiting the American parks, and there has been tons of speculation on what this swollen, reddish rash could be.
So, if you’re sitting there thinking “what is Disney Rash?” (like I was!), then I’ve got you covered.
I’m here to give you the lowdown on the infamous Disney Rash and how you can treat it if you develop it during your trip!
There will be several Cast Members on hand to help you in the parks if you’re feeling uncomfortable (First Aid can be a lifesaver if you don’t have the right tools to hand!), but it’s always good to come prepared in my books.
Everything You Need to Know About Disney Rash
What Is Disney Rash?
First thing’s first – what is Disney Rash and why on earth does it happen?
Well, the official name for Disney Rash is Exercise-Induced Vasculitis, and it can happen to anyone.
It has nothing to do with your fitness levels or how much you walk – it’s just caused by heat exposure and a whole lot of walking.
Basically, if you’re exercising a lot and it’s warm, you’re at risk of developing Disney Rash.
Although it occasionally appears on other parts of the body, it’s typically found on the lower part of the leg and near the ankle.
It’s purely down to unhappy blood vessels that have become inflamed after excessive exercise, so don’t worry about bacteria or fungi – the rash is not contagious and won’t have any shocking after-effects.
Believe it or not, Disney Rash is also called Golfer’s Vasculitis, as the same rash is commonly found in golfers who have been wandering around on the green all day!
What does Disney Rash Look Like?
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is Disney Rash”, let’s move on to the nitty gritty stuff.
The rash itself is a deep red or purple and shows up in a blotchy pattern. It can be minor or extreme but typically resolves on its own without much intervention.
Depending on how severe your case is, you may experience a bit of swelling too.
What does Disney Rash Feel Like?
It usually feels like a burning or itchy pain that feels tingly when it’s particularly humid.
It’s aggravated by humidity, which explains why you’re more likely to experience the Disney Rash at Disney World instead of Disneyland.
How Long Does Disney Rash Take to Resolve?
Disney Rash usually goes away within a week or ten days but may stay around for up to 2 weeks.
It often depends on how much activity you’re continuing to do, so don’t be afraid to lay off the workouts and walking once you’ve returned home.
If you’re worried about things clearing up properly, you can follow my top tips for tackling Disney Rash to make yourself feel more comfortable during your trip.
If it doesn’t go away after your trip is over and you’ve started walking less, it may be time for a trip to a General Practitioner or dermatologist to ensure that nothing’s getting worse.
Equally, if you’re noticing a change in your bowel habits, are vomiting, or have a fever, get yourself to a doctor as soon as you can.
How to Prevent Disney Rash
Whether you’re totally new to Disney Rash or are a seasoned veteran, you may be wondering how to prevent Disney Rash.
To help you out, I’ve compiled a list of tips that should help nip the issue in the bud (or stop it from happening in the first place!).
These tips won’t work for everyone and your mileage may vary, but you can try a few of them out and see what helps keep the issue at bay.
Rest regularly and elevate your legs
I completely understand anyone who wants to barrel through the Disney parks and cover as much as they can in a single day – it’s my go-to MO.
If you’re dealing with Disney Rash or are susceptible to it, you really need to take it easy by taking regular breaks and elevating your legs above your heart whenever you can.
This should minimize swelling and keep your rash at bay.
The best way to do this is with pillows and blankets at your hotel, but you can use park benches if you’re in a pinch.
Just be aware that you may get a few interesting looks if you have your legs all over the communal benches at WDW!
If you can’t elevate your legs, just it down regularly and sip plenty of water. I get that water inside the parks can be pricey, so I recommend grabbing a thermos bottle or a 1-liter bottle to take in your bag.
If I’m being honest, you should be doing this anyway, as wandering around the Disney parks is hard work and can easily lead to dehydration if you’re not careful – the Florida sun is no joke.
You can use the water fountains to refill throughout the day, but you can also head to any quick-service location for ice water if you’re feeling warm.
Get used to walking long distances
You walk more at Disney World than you think.
We’re talking miles and miles.
If you’re not used to walking a lot, then you should try and build up your stamina before your trip. This should help you tackle the long days at the parks and can prevent the Disney Rash from developing!
Keep your body temperature down
Whether that means dipping into stores, stopping by hotels, or regularly grabbing a fountain drink, you should aim to keep cool to avoid Disney Rash. One of my favorite ways to cool down is to return to my hotel for a midday shower. It sounds weird but works like a charm.
Wear light clothing
There’s nothing worse than being burdened by heavy clothing at the Disney parks, and I highly recommend dressing light whenever you visit Florida.
If you’re dealing with Disney Rash (or are afraid of developing it), then this is even more relevant!
Give yourself a massage
There’s always time for relaxing at Walt Disney World, but you won’t need to invest in a full-body pamper session to minimize your chances of getting Disney Rash.
When you get back to your hotel room each evening, just give yourself a touch of TLC by massaging the fluid and muscles in your legs.
This should keep things moving, keep the muscles relaxed, and reduce any swelling that may be building up as you walk.
Wear compression socks
If you’re going all-out to prevent or treat Disney Rash, then you may want to pick up a pair of compression socks. These are designed to reduce the chance of developing Exercise-Induced Vasculitis as they help to keep swelling down and wick moisture away from an area.
I’d say that these were only necessary if you’re susceptible to the rash or have already developed it, as they can be a bit brutal in the Florida heat.
How to Treat Disney Rash
If you’ve developed the Disney Rash and the preventative measures didn’t work (or you’re just learning about it!), then you’ll need to start treating your rash. You can leave it alone if it isn’t bothering you, but I highly recommend kickstarting your recovery by trying a few of these treatment methods.
Although Disney Rash isn’t an allergic reaction, anti-histamines can keep the itching at bay and allow you to enjoy the rest of your park time. If you need something more intense, cortisone cream may help.
Stay out of the sun
This is easier said than done in Florida, but if you’re looking to minimize your Disney Rash, try and stay out of the heat. It’s a great idea to wear moisture-wicking clothing, but you should try and shorten your park days and stay in the shade whenever you can.
Grab some ice
In addition to soaking your feet and legs in cool water, using ice on the affected areas can be therapeutic. It should reduce the itching and swelling while bringing your overall temperature down.
If you can’t find ice or are out in the parks, then an Aloe Vera Gel or Cooling Gel can really help.
Head to a first aid center
If things get totally unbearable, then head to one of the First Aid Centers onsite. They will be able to cool you down, give you a few painkillers to cope with the soreness, and help bring the itching down. They’re well-versed in the Disney Rash at this point, so they’ll recognize it at first glance.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded Disney Rash?
If so, let me know how you coped with it in the comments below! You may just save a fellow traveler a seriously itchy experience.