Does your skin itch the minute you break a sweat? Do you want to exercise but your skin is driving you crazy? Don’t worry, this is a common problem among millions of people who suffer from even the most mildest forms of eczema or atopic dermatitis. Keep reading for some natural and easy tips and tricks that can help you avoid that sweaty itch.
Tip # 1: Pre-moistuize. This is probably the most important and most overlooked eczema tip. Applying a natural lightweight fast absorbing moisturizer before working out solves two problems. First is creates a think barrier on the surface of the skin that gives a little added protection against the friction and rubbing caused by cloths. Second, it also creates a little distance between your skin and your sweat. Look for moisturizers containing colloidal oatmeal, zinc, or arrow root. Avoid irritating chemicals, stick with the plant based stuff. These ingredients provide a nice powdery finish on the skin perfect for sweat protection and provide nutrients to the skins barrier as well.
Tip # 2: Hydrate before you work out. Our sweat contains many necessary compounds that help maintain a healthy skin barrier. However, studies have shown that when people get itchy when they sweat, one cause is that their sweat is super concentrated in irritating proteins (See study here).1 One simple way to help this out is to dilute your sweat by hydrating first.
Tip # 3: Choose the right type of cloths. I know leggings are all the rage, for men and women, unfortunately tight fitting cloths are not your friend if you suffer from itchy skin during a workout. Light weight, loose fitting cloths are key. You want to create as much distance from your skin and your cloths as possible. The goal is to reduce friction from rubbing your skin and also to avoid trapping sweat on the surface of your skin where it will irritate it more.
Tip # 4: Gently remove sweat after a workout. If you are somewhere where you cannot shower soon after a work out, bring a towel and some water to moisten it, and gently wipe your usual problem areas after a workout. When showering, remember to use Luke warm water afterwards to keep your fats in the skin barrier solid and strong. One researcher looked at the effects of the “rise off” afterwards and found that 75% of patients had improved symptoms (read here). 2
Perhaps the most comforting information about itching and exercise, is that you can improve your skin’s ability to tolerate the itch. Recent studies have shown that when people with eczema or ectopic dermatitis who regularly participate in sweaty activities, improve their long term skin conditions. 3 So stick with it, continue to exercise and your skin can improve its natural barrier making itchy exercise a thing of the past.
Want to watch more about the biological reasons behind the "Itch Reflex"? Check out our video on Youtube, 'Itchy Itchy Eczema'.
Dr. Chantelle Davidson, Pharm.D
Learn more about Chantelle in her Author Bio.
Why does sweat lead to the development of itch in atopic dermatitis?
Hiroyuki Murota, Kosuke Yamaga, Emi Ono, Naoya Murayama, Hiroo Yokozeki, Ichiro Katayama,
First published: 01 June 2019
37S. Kaneko, H. Murota, S. Murata, I. Katayama, E. Morita. Biomed. Res. Int. 2017, 2017, 8746745
H. Hurota, S. Shindo, A. Takahashi, I. Katayama, Pract. Dermatol. 2017 39, 877