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question

Why does my skin get uncontrollably itchy after a shower?

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internist
answer

Itching, burning and tingling of the skin after exercising and taking hot baths can be caused by a condition called "cholinergic urticaria." This is a sensitivity to sweat or heat. Symptoms are sometimes followed by an itchy rash.

This condition is more common in people with allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis. People without these conditions can have cholinergic urticaria, too. There is also a rare form of cholinergic urticaria that is inherited.

Men and women can have this condition, but it seems to be more common in men. It is most common between ages ten and thirty. Episodes are usually brief. They can last from half an hour to an hour. In severe cases there may be abdominal cramping, diarrhea, headaches and other symptoms.

Cholinergic urticaria is a form of physical urticaria. "Aquagenic urticaria" appears in some people after exposure to water—both cold and hot. "Pressure urticaria" can appear after pressure is applied to the skin. People with one type of urticaria often have another type.

An oral antihistamine can help reduce the symptoms of urticaria. See your doctor if your symptoms get worse. And take care of your skin by using a mild, unscented soap. If your skin is dry, use an unscented moisturizer after you wash.

Harvard Medical School Skin Care and Repair

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Harvard Medical School Skin Care and Repair

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.