How to Deal with Rashes from Exercise

Woman exercising outside How to Deal with Rashes from Exercise

Exercise has a multitude of benefits for all parts of the body, including the skin. But what if you love a good workout but hate what it does to your skin? For those who enjoy the benefits of exercise but experience some adverse side effects like skin rash or excessive sweating that leads to hives or redness, it may not be the most motivational outcome when you’re trying to be healthy. Luckily, the dermatologists at Southeast Dermatology Specialists can help!

What to Know About Exercise Rashes

What Can Cause My Skin Rash?

Skin rashes that result from exercise are typically a result of your body’s natural reaction to exercise or environmental factors. Your skin naturally releases histamines when exercising. Histamines are proteins that aid your body during activity. The reaction your body has to these natural histamines is similar to what you’d see if you had an allergic reaction to pollen or dust. Some experience rash or hives because of the way the skin naturally reacts to these proteins being released into your skin. Typically, these rashes or hives will dissipate once the body cools. Your dermatologist can recommend an antihistamine to implement into your routine if necessary.

Some medications can also cause exercise rash. Pain medication, sedatives, and more can cause the skin to produce a rash when the body is heated due to exercise. This is more likely to occur in cool weather than warm, and your dermatologist can give you a topical to help with the itching.

Your rash could also be a heat rash if you overheat during exercise or exercise outside during hot times of the day. You will want to avoid peak hours, which are typically 10 am - 4 pm, but during the summer months, it may be best to start your workout as early in the day as possible, especially if you want to avoid a rash from the sun or sun damage. Sun damage from sunburn will only make your rash worse.

Overheating like this is especially common in those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, also known as excessive sweating. When people with hyperhidrosis sweat, their body can’t cool down fast enough. The best thing you can do here is wear loose fitting clothing that promotes breathing for the skin.

Treatments for Exercise Rash

Like any other skin condition, you’ll want to seek advice from your dermatologist before starting a treatment plan. They may recommend working out in an air-conditioned space for those who overheat or better clothing to ensure breathability for the skin as you sweat.

They may also recommend medications and topicals that can help with itching and discomfort in the interim. For those who have hyperhidrosis, they may recommend a miraDry treatment. MiraDry is an FDA-approved non-invasive treatment that uses heat energy to reduce sweating to the underarm or other trouble area and eliminate the sweat glands and odors. Since the human body has 2-4 million sweat glands, losing only 2% won’t be noticeable.


No matter what the causes and symptoms of your exercise rash, we are here to help. Contact us today and request an appointment with our dermatologists to alleviate your skin rash and hives so you can stay motivated and enjoy exercise!

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