Golfer's vasculitis


  • Robert I Kelly, FACD. Jacinta Opie, MB BS. Rosemary Nixon, FACD.

    This paper was presented at the annual scientific meeting of the Australasian College of Dermatologists in Melbourne 2002. The paper was awarded the F and E Bauer Grant.

    Abbreviation: Ig, immunoglobulin.

Dr Robert Kelly, 499 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East, Vic. 3123, Australia. Email:


A number of patients presented with an erythematous, purpuric rash occurring on the legs in association with playing golf and also after prolonged walks or hikes. Many patients believed that it was an allergic reaction to grasses or insecticides and had sometimes undergone extensive allergy testing. We collected reports of 17 such cases from dermatologists in the state of Victoria, Australia. Patients were interviewed by phone and asked to submit photographs of the rash if possible. Of these, the eruption developed in 15 after playing 18 holes of golf and in three following prolonged hikes. The rash would usually develop over the summer months under hot conditions. Most patients were over 50 years of age when the tendency to develop the eruption began. Biopsies of the rash in the active phase showed leukocytoclastic vasculitis. Patch testing and investigations for potential underlying causes for vasculitis were negative or unremarkable. It would seem that this is a common but poorly documented condition. The clinical presentation and histology would support the conclusion that it represents a leukocytoclastic vasculitis induced by prolonged exercise under hot conditions. The findings would suggest that it occurs in healthy people and extensive investigation with blood tests or allergy testing is inappropriate. We believe the condition should be termed ‘golfer's vasculitis', as golf appears to be the most common precipitating event and such a term would enable the condition to become more widely recognized.