Allergic to grass, Jaguars WR Allen Hurns itching to get off the field every day

Allen Hurns goes with long sleeves to try to limit contact with the grass and prevent rash outbreaks. John Raoux/AP

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- No matter how hot it is on the practice field, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns is usually wearing long tights and a long-sleeve shirt.

They provide him protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, but that’s not why he wears them. He’s trying to keep from spending the next couple hours scratching.

Hurns is allergic to grass.

If you’re a gymnast or a swimmer or bowler, that isn’t a problem. If you’re a football player, however, it kind of is.

"It has its moments," Hurns said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. There are numerous elite athletes in that group. Some have food allergies -- Serena Williams is allergic to peanuts and Adrian Peterson has a shellfish allergy, for example -- but others have environmental allergies like Hurns.

Tiger Woods received allergy shots as a child and is still bothered by pollen on the golf course. Ian Poulter also is allergic to several types of grass. Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe overcame a childhood allergy to chlorine to go on to win five Olympic gold medals.

Hurns said he found out about his grass allergy by accident in high school. He was diagnosed with a seafood allergy and underwent skin testing from an allergist to see if he was allergic to anything else. Grass popped up, which explained why he would have rashes on his arms, legs and sometimes his neck after practices and games.

Hurns said he doesn’t experience breathing problems. His nose doesn’t get stuffy or runny either. He has skin breakouts that vary in degrees. Some days they're barely there. Other days he said he has to take a Benadryl after practice or games if it’s a particularly severe breakout.

Hurns said it’s more of a nuisance than a problem, and it obviously hasn’t affected him on the field. He recently signed a four-year contract extension worth $40 million after catching 115 passes for 1,708 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons. The yards and touchdown catches are the most by an undrafted player in his first two seasons since the 1970 merger.

There’s nothing Hurns can do to stop the breakouts from happening other than wearing the long sleeves and tights -- or giving up the sport altogether. The only other thing he does is drink a lot of water because he said staying hydrated helps.

Of course, the games that the Jaguars play in Indianapolis and Houston each year are helpful because those stadiums have artificial turf. But the Jaguars play every home game (including London) on natural grass and practice every day on grass, so Hurns -- just as he did in high school and at the University of Miami -- lives with his allergy.

"Sometimes I break out. Sometimes I don’t," Hurns said. "... At times it gets pretty aggravating, but for the most part it’s been holding up good."