Why Do I Get a Skin Rash When I Exercise?

Why Do I Get a Skin Rash When I Exercise?

July 28, 2017

Exercise should be considered as an integral activity in anyone’s life. A person who regularly engages in physical activities can reap a lot of health benefits; unfortunately, there are people who suffer from skin problems when they exercise. The most common of which include eczema and heat rashes.

Skin issues appear during or after exercise because certain parts of the body or skin gets in contact with each other. Such areas that are usually affected include the underarms, groin area, and between the thighs or buttocks. These problems may also happen due to the material used for exercise clothes worn.

There are also instances when the rashes appear due to moisture trapped in the skin, especially, during hot or humid conditions. The warm and moist areas can be considered as an ideal environment for microbes to flourish and can result to yeast or irritation rash.

More about rashes

Heat rash, also known as miliaria or prickly heat is a type of hive which is caused by heat. The medical term for this skin condition is cholinergic urticaria and although there are various reasons behind why people suffer from the said condition, none of the causes are considered serious or alarming.

Miliaria usually happens when the sweat ducts are blocked, making perspiration stay trapped under the skin. It is more common in babies since their sweat ducts are not yet properly formed. People who live in warm or humid locations are also likely to experience cholinergic urticaria.

Engaging in exercise routines is also one of the numerous causes behind this skin condition. Other contributing factors include changes in weather or body temperature, anxiety, stress, hot shower and even eating spicy food.

The connection between exercise and heat rashes

The usual exercise routine can certainly put anyone to the test. You can naturally expect more perspiration. The sweat ducts then get blocked when you sweat heavily during or after exercise which can also lead to an increase in the body temperature. When this happens, the skin may get irritated, leading to heat rashes.

Another reason for skin rashes during or after exercise is the release of histamines which may trigger an allergic reaction. However, this does not mean that you are allergic to exercise and its related activities but you may be experiencing a unique biological response that mimics that of an allergic reaction.

Symptoms, treatment, and precaution

Heat rash usually appears in the folds of the skin or in bodily areas where clothing may create friction. The common areas that are often affected with heat rash include the arms, chest, face and legs. The usual physical manifestations of heat rash include red bumps as well as feeling itchy or prickly in the affected area.

The best and most approved treatment for heat rash is the use of over the counter medications like calamine lotion. This can also help soothe the itchy sensation. As a precaution, it is best to wear workout clothes which provide a cooling sensation to the skin. Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton for your workout clothes so you can feel a lot better when exercising.

It is also best to bring a towel whenever you exercise so you can wipe off sweat easily. You can also request for a skin specialist doctor to prescribe an over the counter antihistamine which you can take before you exercise.

It’s also advisable to check laundry soap or detergents used when washing clothes. There are instances when laundry detergents or soaps cause an allergic reaction.

Heat rash in general is not considered as a serious skin condition. The symptoms will usually go away even when it is untreated but there may be instances when it gets worse. If this is the case, do not hesitate to consult a doctor right away for further testing and proper treatment.


Another rash-like skin condition that is pretty common is eczema. The exact cause behind this condition is still unknown. It is commonly believed that the problem is developed through a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Sweat caused by exercise and other similar activities is also one of the culprits behind acquiring eczema.

Symptoms of eczema include rashes in various areas of the body such as the nape, elbows and knees. There are some instances when it will manifest or cover a wider area of the body. Such rashes are often itchy and can also make the skin appear dry or scaly.

Diagnosis is primarily based on physical symptoms but a specialist will also ask about your medical history. In the event that a genetic condition is possible a cause behind the problem, there may be a need for further testing to ensure a more accurate diagnosis.

Like rashes, in case your eczema is triggered by exercise, it is best to hydrate before, during and after exercise. Drinking lots of fluids regularly will effectively replace water that is lost when you sweat. It is also important to pay attention to clothes you wear when you exercise. Always go for light and breathable fabrics so your skin won’t be too restricted when you move.

If your eczema makes you feel too itchy, then you can use cool compression wraps to cool the skin and ultimately calm the itch. Your doctor may also recommend a good over-the-counter medication if needed.

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