stupid sensitive skin
September 25, 2013 9:08 AM   Subscribe

So I've looked at some previous questions, and since they're not quite what I'm looking for, I'm hoping the hive mind can help me out. I've always had somewhat sensitive skin, particularly on my shoulders and back. When it's hot out, I tend to get irritated hair follicles and something akin to cystic acne (big welts), particularly in areas where I sweat. Changing t-shirts extra often helps a bit, but only so much. Now that I'm training for a marathon, it's so much worse. Weird random (possible rub spots?) on my legs, sides, and the regular trouble spots are just a mess. Any help is sorely appreciated!
posted by canine epigram to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What are you wearing when you train? Cotton or technical shirts? What kind of bra? If applicable....

Do you use body glide?
posted by bq at 9:17 AM on September 25, 2013

Do you wash your clothes in fragrance-free detergent, and avoid using fabric softener? Also, does your soap (or shower gel, etc.) have a fragrance, or your lotion or sunscreen if you use those? Perfumes are common irritants.

If you shower right after running, it might help to keep the water warm but not hot, also.

Good luck.
posted by homelystar at 9:28 AM on September 25, 2013

Response by poster: I wear tech knit material training and use body glide. Bra not applicable. Generally washed or at least rinsed after every single time.

No fragrances used in anything. We do use fabric softener (also fragrance free). and I might try seeing if not using it makes a difference.
posted by canine epigram at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2013

I would propose going to see a dermatologist. I had a similar condition when I was younger and it left extremely extensive and severe scarring.
posted by XMLicious at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding going to a dermatologist. I have Eczema, which comes and goes on various parts of my body, migrating to a new spot every few years. It never fully goes away, but I find the clothes I wear, the type of soap I use, the weather, and my diet all seem to contribute to how bad it is.

Something like this takes troubleshooting over time. So, maybe try new laundry detergent for a month, try a new soap, try not wearing a certain type of material. Change things up and see if it goes away, then try to narrow it down to one of the things you've changed.

I switched from brand name soaps to some natural, hippy soap from Whole Foods and things have gotten noticeably better.

Good luck, I feel your pain.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on September 25, 2013

I used to (and still do to a lesser degree) get large itchy patches mostly on my thighs but sometimes elsewhere when I was walking/exercising outside. If I touched those patches - scratching, rubbing, etc. - they turned into reddish, painful welt/hives. Where they met up with clothing - hems, fabric in general - they also flared up more.

They significantly reduced in frequency and severity when I started getting aggressively potent allergy shots and also began religiously taking a 24-hour antihistamine every day.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:22 AM on September 25, 2013

I was going to suggest an antihistamine too. Depending on the weather/activity/stars aligning I might need to take two, as the welts get really bad. This might have to become a daily thing for you as you train, and you might need to experiment with the types until you find one that provides enough relief. (Allegra works for me, for example.)
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 10:50 AM on September 25, 2013

Response by poster: Sounds like it may be time for a derma consult. I know it's not allergies, more acne-like. It's better when I wear less cotton close to my skin and sweat less, but especially with the much increased activity level (and despite showering right afterward), it's bugging me.
posted by canine epigram at 11:12 AM on September 25, 2013

It really depends what the root of the problem is.
- If it's friction, then some sort of silicone product will help.
- If it's allergy, then you need antihistamines.
- If it's a deeper skin issue like adult acne, then a doctor is probably going to be your best option.

A few ideas:
No fabric softener on your athletic wear. Fabric softener ruins the wicking properties. Wash what you have in hot water with vinegar - a few times. That might restore some of the wicking.

For friction I find that body glide is okay for skin rubbing against material (shoes, shorts), but not good for skin rubbing against skin. For that, I use 2Toms Sportshield or stick style deodorant. You want the white ladies style product which has silicone, not the guys gel-like Speedstick kind.

Really, it sounds like doc time. I run on teams with tons of people. Your problem isn't a common one.
posted by 26.2 at 11:17 AM on September 25, 2013

Response by poster: Tech knit never sees fabric softener, just to clarify. I'll get checked out. It's definitely not an allergic reaction.
posted by canine epigram at 11:20 AM on September 25, 2013

IANAD, just a person with weird skin problems in the summer. While waiting for your consult, try using anti-dandruff shampoo that contains selenium sulfide as a body wash. If it clears it up you probably have one of the tinea brands of fungal invasions. In my case, it's tinea versicolor.
posted by xyzzy at 10:06 PM on September 25, 2013

Response by poster: Turns out it was folliculitis.
posted by canine epigram at 10:56 AM on October 3, 2013

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