How to Deal with Rashes from Exercise

Woman scratching at a sweat rash on her neck How to Deal with Rashes from Exercise

Do you find yourself going to the gym and leaving with skin issues that weren't there when you arrived? If you experience skin issues such as a rash after a workout, you may be experiencing sweat rash. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute share the signs and symptoms of sweat rash, how to treat i,t and how to prevent it from occurring at your next workout.

How to Identify and Deal with an Exercise Rash

What Is Sweat Rash?

Rashes that occur from exercise are commonly referred to as sweat rash or medically referred to as cholinergic urticaria (CU). It is the last thing you probably think you would ever experience after a good workout, but it is commonly experienced. Ultimately, it is a reaction from your body to an increase in your body temperature. It typically results in hives surrounded by large patches of red skin and is induced by sweating during a workout.

The skin affected by the sweat rash is often itchy and warm to the touch. The sweat rash will typically appear on the chest, face, back, and arms. It may appear on one body part and then spread to the others. There is no clear cause for getting sweat rash, but you are more susceptible to it if you have eczema, asthma, or are known to get hives for other reasons. Sweat rash can last 30 minutes up to two hours. If you experience sweat rash during or after a workout, there are ways to prevent it from occurring and treatment options if it does occur.

Treatment and Prevention of Sweat Rash

A dermatologist can help you determine if you are experiencing sweat rash through different tests. A passive warming test will raise your body temperature and allow the dermatologist to see your body’s reaction. Another test is performed with methacholine. It is injected into the body and you are observed for a reaction. Lastly, an exercise challenge test may be used to also test for symptoms. If it is determined that you have sweat rash, a dermatologist will give you treatment options based on the severity of the reaction.

The most common treatment for sweat rash is using antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Allegra. All of these are used to treat allergies and help swelling to go down and itchiness to subside. They should be taken daily to be most effective. If they aren’t working, steroids such as Tagamet or Zantac may help. Of course, talk to your dermatologist before starting any over the counter medicines to see what will work best for you.

Most importantly, you want to keep your skin cool to prevent a rash from forming. If you are still sweating a lot during exercises, try to wear loose clothes that won’t make you sweat more. After your workout, take a cool shower and use a cool washcloth over your skin.


Exercising is important, and we don’t want you to forego healthy habits because of sweat rash. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois, or the surrounding areas, complete this form. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute want to help you keep exercising without having sweat rash.

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