No you are not misreading reading the title, I am allergic to my own sweat… well sort of. I have what is called Exercise Induced Urticaria. What is that you ask? As I understand it, its when the mast cells in your immune system releases histamine and causes welts or raised bumps due physical exertion. In a nut shell, I break out in hives when I sweat, which is brought on by exercising.
My first real encounter with the condition was when I had my first mile run in middle school. As soon as I finished running and got to the locker room I just started scratching my legs uncontrollably and then all over my body from head to toe. I literally scratched until my legs were numb and I couldn’t feel anything.
I remember crying because I didn’t know what was happening and why. I couldn’t look at at anything that was dirty including dirt itself because it would just send me scratching all over again. At the time I thought it was an isolated experience because I had never had it happen before, but then again, I had never attempted run the mile before.
On another occasion I willingly decided to go running around in my neighborhood for some exercise. I started jogging and then decided to push myself by running up these long flight of stairs down the street from where I lived. All I know is by the time I went up the stairs and down, I was itching. I didn’t know how I was going to get home.
I was itching like a crazy women and everything I saw outdoors made it worse! The bushes, dirt, tissue on the ground, I was in agony. I closed my eyes and prayed asking God to just help me make it back home. Needless to say, I did make it home, but I knew this was no longer an isolated experience.
I did ask my doctor at some point in my life, but they didn’t know what it was the result of. I recently learned that a lot of cases were misdiagnosed over the years because some doctors just didn’t know what they were dealing with. Today there are several different types of urticaria (hives) and some are more severe than others and even life threatening.
Some control the breakout by taking an antihistamine like Zyrtec an hour before planned exercise or something stronger prescribed by their doctor. In all cases, doctors recommend exercising with a partner just incase and emergency arises. I consider myself very fortunate to not have this condition on the extreme end. I can only imagine how scary that could be.
Over the years I have noticed that I don’t break out everytime I exercise, it’s only when I am running, jogging or over exerting myself. I do try to stick to moderate to low workouts and make sure to have a fan nearby to keep me cool. I wear light weight or very little clothing (my workouts are mostly done in the house). In addition, I drink ice cold water and use a wet rag to help bring my body temperature down.
I have tried a antihistamine, but I don’t know if it worked because the two times I took them, I didn’t wait an hour for it to work. I attempted my workouts and ended up paying for it 10-15 minutes later! I definitely plan on getting a handle on this and not allowing it to stop me from doing what I want to do.
One of these days I will be able to run a marathon, but in the meantime, yall pray for me because even as I write about my condition, I’m beginning to itch. Smh.