Body itch when I feel hot
August 27, 2009 1:31 AM   Subscribe

Why does my body itch when i eat spicy food or when i exercise?

My body starts to itch when I start exercising or when I eat spicy food. It itches all year round; whether its winter, summer etc. I am staying in Melbourne at the moment.

I googled a bit and stumbled upon this disease-
Symptoms follow any stimulus to sweat such as exercise (sometimes called exercise-induced urticaria, see Exercise urticaria), heat from the sun (which could also indicate solar urticaria), saunas, hot showers (reaction to water can also indicate water urticaria), spicy foods which may cause an increase in body temperature or even stress due to blushing or anger.

Well basically I don't have the hives as mentioned as in the website but my itchness is similar to that. However I feel that my skin itches because of dry skin as I tend to have very hot showers. (but I don't itch when i have the hot showers).

Is there any other explanation than dry skin? Thanks in advance
posted by red_rika to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Many foods and medications can cause itching from allergic reactions. It's best to discuss your symptoms with your doc.
posted by netbros at 2:34 AM on August 27, 2009

Does your skin have any (even very faint) discoloration in the most itchy spots?
Might be Tinea Versicolor.
posted by baserunner73 at 2:35 AM on August 27, 2009

Oops, link maybe NSFW due to medical photo of partially exposed chest.
posted by baserunner73 at 2:38 AM on August 27, 2009

I have something similar where my legs will itch excrutiatingly if I walk for a long time. The skin also flushes quite a bit, uniformly, not in spots. It is exacerbated by cold weather and by clothing rubbing against my skin.

A doctor once told me it was a histamine reaction in the skin, not harmful, just uncomfortable. I find if I take an antihistamine a little while before, it takes care of a lot of the problem.
posted by MsElaineous at 4:16 AM on August 27, 2009

I had cholinergic urticaria. Boy, did that blow. I'm not sure that's what you have, because I believe cholinergic urticaria expresses itself whenever and however your body temperature rises. And since you're not getting the itchiness when you take a hot shower, I'd be suspect of a cholinergic urticaria diagnosis. I was finally cured by a doc who threw in the towel after three weeks of me not being able to leave the house during the day. He prescribed a two-week course of prednisone (corticosteroid) and that killed it off. The dirty secret among doctors is that half the time they really don't know why we get some of the weird things that we get, and they don't know how to cure it. So they just start prescribing stuff. Luckily, the prednisone worked for me. For years after, though, I would still get a bit itchy when exercising, or going outside on a really hot day. What has completely knocked the urticaria out of my system in the last couple of years, though, is a commitment to better living. I eat much more healthily, drink less, and exercise more. As a person who has gone through a trying period of trying to figure out what kind of weird auto-immune affliction is shutting my body down, I feel for you. It's really distressing to have your body freak out on you and not know why. Lowering stress, eating well (whole foods, veggies, etc.), and exercising helped clear up my hives. So do that. But also go see a doctor.
posted by billysumday at 4:42 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are you drinking enough water? As a teenager, I never drank enough (just subsisted on crap like soda), and when I'd exercise, it would really itch when I started to sweat. That doesn't happen to me anymore, since I keep myself reasonably hydrated.
posted by knave at 4:57 AM on August 27, 2009

So, I have a very similar problem to you, where the skin on my face would itch whenever I sweat during exercise. I assumed it was some bizarre allergic reaction and wiped my face with a paper towel when it became too unbearable. Recently, a lot of my allergies have gone away - including this one; I'm not sure how relevant my example will be but here you go. In my case I think I have a minor wheat allergy that was acting as a catalyst to all of my other allergies. I quit eating it and all of a sudden I lost my allergic reaction to sweat, uncooked fruits and vegetables, nuts, and my seasonal allergies.

Then again it could just be Cholinergic Uticaria
posted by scrutiny at 5:19 AM on August 27, 2009

I have a similar problem that is currently driving me nuts, as it has been over 30-35 degrees Celsius this entire summer where I live. This will sound kind of odd, but what's worked for me is that I eat a lot of "cooling foods" after I am overheated. This is a tenet of TCM, that your body can have too much heat or too much moisture. At any rate, I've been trying not to eat too many heating foods and more of the cooling ones. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with whether or not the foods themselves are hot or cold, the other day I had a hot winter melon soup with cilantro. There is an article here that goes into this.
posted by so much modern time at 6:09 AM on August 27, 2009

my friend mark and i have been running together around fitzroy (in melbourne) oval lately, and he asked me if i itched when i started to sweat. I noticed that that i do, just as the sweat starts to appear, but it disappears soon after. In my case its not a problem, just a mild curiosity. I've been asking people and it seems a lot of people experience a mild itching when they start to sweat.
posted by compound eye at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm.. i am not sure, I don't have any discoloration or rashes. Its just itchy. Probably its dry skin. I'll try to have not that hot showers and use mosturizers and drink water. I'll see how it goes then. The itchyness is really sucky ! =(
posted by red_rika at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2009

posted by Palerale at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2009

Do you also take supplements? Vitamin B3, aka niacin, causes flushing and itching. It dilates the capillaries all over the body which causes the sensations. What is recommended to speed up the flushing is to drink two tall glasses of water and relax; stressing about it seems to make the itching worse.

If niacin is in your list of supplements, you can get a flush-free version of it (niacinimide.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:33 AM on August 27, 2009

2nding the suggestion that it's a histamine reaction. I have the same thing when I haven't been exercising regularly for a while. If I get on the treadmill or go for a vigorous walk, my legs will start itching like CRAZY. Truly, to the point where I HAVE to stop moving and scratch, scratch, scratch. It's maddening. I think it has to do with the little capillaries in your skin filling up with more blood than they're used to (because you're exerting yourself -- or, for the OP, eating spicy foods) and your body mistakes that for an attack by something it might need to fight off so it releases histamines. And that causes the itching. For me, the solution is to keep exercising very lightly -- gradually increasing activity over the course of a week or so -- until my body gets used to the flush of blood in the capillaries.
posted by rhartong at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2009

Like rhartong, my legs, stomach, and back itch when I run or walk fast and hard, especially when I don't do it for a while. It's just a mild histamine reaction and goes away after a little bit, but it can be SO annoying for the 2-3 minutes that it lasts.

It does go away or at least lessen considerably with practice. I'm just unfortunately very stop-start about my fitness and I've had to suffer through this over and over and over again.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:59 AM on August 27, 2009

If you think sweating is related to the itching, look at your laundry detergent and fabric softeners/dryer sheets. The scents could be irritating your skin when your clothing gets wet. A simple switch to scent free could help, or at least rule that out.

IMNAD, but I think all dermatologists hate hot showers. They'll tell you to use luke warm water, and keep it under 10 min. Pat your skin dry (don't rub) then apply moisturizer all over right away. Also only shower/bathe once a day.
posted by fontophilic at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2009

When my skin is dry I sometimes itch when I first start to sweat. At least I've come to associate it with dry skin, possibly because it only seems to occur in the winter. Seems like I quit itching as soon as I really start sweating but that it lingers if I'm just sweat a little (eating spicy food). It isn't an intense itching. From what others have said I'm guessing mine is probably the sweat glands/capillaries expanding and my skin is more sensitive because it's a little dry. You might try lotion and, if that doesn't do it, benadryl cream. If you do the benadryl cream first and it works you can't be sure whether it's an allergic reaction or just dry skin.

If it is an intense itch, you know, see a Dr..
posted by Carbolic at 7:35 PM on August 27, 2009

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