Exercise & Scalp Itching

Mid adult man running, side view
Jogger in a field (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Doctors recommend exercise on most days of the week as an effective way to lose weight and ensure your overall well-being. Scalp itchiness that occurs during a workout can hinder your weight-loss efforts and is often linked to an allergic reaction. Recognize the common triggers of scalp itch during exercise to reduce your risk.

Identification

Scalp itchiness that disrupts your exercise is called exercise-induced urticaria and results when your immune system reacts negatively to a certain food. Even small amounts of food can trigger the itchiness, which occurs along with red splotches or blisters as a side effect of hives. Food allergies have no cure, although you may experience the reactions less as you grow older. Some people with food allergies suffer anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can be fatal. Adjusting your eating schedule often lowers your risk for exercise-induced urticaria.

Types And Timeline

The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that your likelihood is highest for scalp itching that accompanies hives when you jog or run, although other activities — volleyball, skiing and dancing -- also raise your risk. Itching from exercise-induced urticaria typically begins five to 10 minutes after the start of your workout and can sometimes continue for at least 30 minutes after you cease activity. Some people suffer itching for as long as four hours. Foods most likely to trigger allergic reactions during exercise include nuts, eggs, wheat and shellfish.

Prevention/Solution

Your doctor may perform an exercise-challenge test to determine if you have food allergies. The test typically involves measurement of your lung function after a period of exercise that takes place on an exercise bicycle or treadmill. Limit your chance of scalp itching by avoiding exercise for at least four hours after eating any food listed by your doctor as a potential allergen and always work out with a friend.

Potential

Prescription medication called epinephrine often controls severe scalp itchiness and lowers your risk for a potentially fatal reaction called anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is injected as soon as itchiness or other symptoms of an allergic reaction begin.

Considerations

Scalp itchiness during exercise may be caused by heat-induced urticaria in rare cases. The condition occurs when your body has a negative reaction to sweating or intense heat, as well as to spicy foods or taking a hot bath. Your doctor may recommend avoiding outdoor activity in warm weather and an antihistamine to control itching.

Warning

Halt your workout if you suffer scalp itchiness and wait at least 10 minutes to see if the discomfort subsides. Alert your doctor if the itching persists or if you experience difficulty breathing, cramps in your stomach or severe headache.

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