You’ve waited months to get back to your happy place at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
I mean, seriously, you’ve put off visiting the parks for a little while so this whole coronapocalypse would hopefully wear itself out, but enough is enough, and you just had to get some Disney Parks in your life. We get it.
On the first day of your visit, the food is better than you remember, and on the second day, the thrill rides are more thrilling, the spectacular live entertainment is even more spectacular, and the new nighttime fireworks and projection show at Magic Kingdom puts you in a place of wonder and enchantment. Why did you wait so long?
But right smack dab in the middle of your third day in the parks, you kinda feel tingly around your ankle. Must be the 5Gs at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster playing temporary havoc on your circulation. But then you reach down to tie your shoes, and that’s when you see them: wide bands of red hives that have spread up and down your legs, and then stop abruptly at your sock line, as if someone were painting your legs and used that blue tape as a boundary.
Come to think of it, your ankle has been kind of itchy the last few hours.
You figure you must have gotten into something you’re allergic to, but you can’t imagine what it could be. You don’t usually have any allergic reaction on your skin, and this just popped up out of nowhere! You go on with your day, but only one parade, two turkey legs, three Dole Whips, and a cruise in a galleon with Peter Pan later, your legs look like some terrible furor has erupted onto them, and now instead of tingling and itching, you are in pain, and those bands of red hives have turned into droves of purple bruise-like marks.
What in the actual heck is happening to you?
Well, my friend, you have gained a Disney souvenir that didn’t cost you a dime. It’s called “Disney Rash.” And yes, we’re serious.
Medically speaking, “Disney Rash” is known by its other, more quasi-clinical names, like Golfer’s Vasculitis, Hiker’s Vasculitis, Pound the Pavement Purpura, and even Disney Vasculitis.
It’s called Disney Rash and Disney Vasculitis because so many people fall victim to this theme park skin phenomenon, but don’t worry; Disney doesn’t have a patent on this one just yet. In fact, if you visit any theme park, you might score the same souvenir, but of course, to be fair, you’d have to call it “Six Flags Rash,” “Universal Rash,” or “Busch Gardens Rash,” and then ask yourself, if you were going to score a nasty skin rash no matter which park you visit, why didn’t you get it at Disney? (That at least sounds more fun!)
So you have Disney Rash. Now what?
First things first: Dr. Carley Fowler, M. D., of the Knoxville Center for Dermatology, says not to panic.
“It usually resolves spontaneously over three to four days,” he explains.
Next, why does it happen at Disney World and other theme parks?
Disney World, among other theme parks, provides the ideal scenario for Disney Rash to take over. It’s hot in Central Florida–and not just in July and August. It’s warm in the spring, summer, and fall. In fact, some in Florida call autumn “second summer.” The heat causes blood vessels in your legs to dilate. Plus, you’re on your feet, walking from ride to ride, attraction to attraction, show to show, and this allows gravity to pull more fluid into those vessels that are already dilated. That can cause the capillaries in your skin to become distended. They also become very fragile.
Keep walking while your vessels and capillaries are acting crazy, and you’ve got the perfect opportunity for blood to leak out of those capillaries. That’s what gives the rash appearance on your skin.
And what can you do to treat or prevent Disney Rash?
Disney Rash doesn’t look fun, and it’s not pretty, but Dr. Fowler says not to let it sully the magic.
“It does sound kind of scary, but the fact is that all those contributing factors—the heat, the gravity—cause those vessels to dilate and if you can reverse that process by not being in the heat and propping your feet up, then you’re going to reverse the process,” he said.
So keep enjoying your trip, but take the time to put your feet up here and there; this will help to lower the amount of fluid pooling in your lower extremities. Take a break from the heat because the heat and humidity are responsible for getting the whole process started in the first place. Catch a show indoors, eat lunch inside where it’s cooler, or get to know the sea creatures in the massive aquarium at The Seas With Nemo pavilion at EPCOT. (It’s always cool in there!)
Dr. Fowler even suggests wearing compression stockings or basketball socks that go up to your knees. These can help with fluid retention in your legs.
And for goodness sakes, make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day–even if you’re visiting in March or November. Being hydrated helps with Disney Rash and a myriad of other souvenirs you don’t want to earn while in the parks!