oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Allergic skin conditions in athletes

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Allergic skin conditions occur more commonly in athletes than in the general population, as a result of the physical and psychological demands of sport as well as increased exposure to irritants and allergens. A good understanding of causes and mechanisms of skin allergies is required for optimal management. Information from the literature used in this review is mainly from case studies and case series, but also from clinical trials and earlier reviews. Urticaria is the consequence of type I allergic reactions and can be associated with exercise-induced angio-oedema and anaphylaxis. Causative factors, management and prevention of urticaria in the athletic population are discussed. The non-allergic urticarias, caused by physical stimuli such as heat, cold, exertion, mechanical stimulation of the skin, water and radiation are described. Allergic urticarias are uncommon in athletes. The two contact sensitisation syndromes that occur in athletes are allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) associated with type IV allergic reactions, and irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). Specific irritants and allergens associated with types of sport are presented. Stings, envenomations and infestations also occur in the athletic population. Selected conditions, especially those associated with water sports, are discussed. Optimal management and prevention of allergic skin conditions in athletes can prevent poor performance, physical and psychological morbidity, and mortality.

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