n International SportMed Journal - Exercise and skin-related allergies : diagnosis and management : review article

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



Allergic skin conditions are very common, and their presence in athletes may pose particular challenges in management. Some of these conditions may be worsened by factors accompanying exercise, such as increased body heat and sweating, whereas others may only be triggered in the performance of exercise. Physical urticaria is an example of the latter category. Physical urticarias share the common feature of being induced by environmental factors, such as change in temperature, or by direct stimulation of the skin, through pressure, vibration, light and stroking. Atopic dermatitis is a common condition, increasing in prevalence and typically affecting children and adolescents. For the athlete with atopic dermatitis there are special considerations. The disease itself, when moderate to severe, can have a significant impact on performance because of its impact on psychological well-being and the frequency of sleep deprivation caused by pronounced itching and scratching at night. By the nature of many sporting activities there is the increased likelihood of sweating, water loss and raised skin temperature, all of which can lead to the exacerbation of the underlying condition.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a common skin problem caused by a delayed type, hypersensitivity response to a relevant substance, usually a chemical that acts as a hapten. The individual with allergic contact dermatitis will present with a dermatitis localised to the site of contact. Common contactants of particular relevance to the athlete include nickel and rubber accelerators.
Management of the athlete with chronic allergic skin disease requires a sound approach to diagnosis, clear education regarding the problem, sensible advice regarding simple avoidance strategies, maintenance of optimal control of the underlying condition, and the judicious use of non-sedating antihistamines.

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