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What is sweat allergy?

Adrián Diago Irache
Dermatology consultations
08 Jul 2024
2 Min
Health and advice

Sweating is our body’s mechanism for self-regulating the increase in body temperature. With the arrival of summer, the rise in body temperature and the consequent sweating, some people may suffer from a skin reaction known as ‘cholinergic urticaria‘, also called sweat allergy. This condition manifests itself in the form of itching, skin lesions and redness. Dr. Diago Irache, specialist in dermatology at Paracelso Sagasta, explains why it appears, how it is diagnosed and the keys to its proper treatment.

What causes sweat allergy?

Although the underlying cause is not exactly known, cholinergic urticaria is triggered by an increase in body temperature and not by sweating per se. Intense physical exercise, emotional stress, hot baths and showers, or even with the ingestion of spicy foods, are common factors that can trigger this reaction.

What are the symptoms of sweat allergy?

Cholinergic urticaria causes symptoms that include the appearance of small red lesions (papules) 1-5 mm in diameter associated with itching. The skin lesions and itching can occur on the torso as well as on all extremities and is usually a rapidly evolving condition. Any physical activity involving an increase in body temperature may be sufficient to trigger symptoms.

In adolescents and young adults it is common to observe the rapid onset of lesions on the trunk and upper limbs after physical activity, even during physical activity.

How is sweat allergy diagnosed?

The specialist performs a detailed clinical assessment of the patient’s symptoms and medical history, asking questions about the triggers of these symptoms and the duration of symptoms, among other relevant factors. In addition, they may perform a physical examination of the skin and, if necessary, order additional tests. In some cases, the physician may recommend allergy tests or blood tests to rule out other possible allergies related to the sweating triggers, such as certain foods or medications.

What is the treatment for sweat allergy?

Cholinergic urticaria has no specific treatment. Symptoms usually disappear in less than 1 hour spontaneously, an improvement that is due to self-regulation of body temperature. Contact with cold water may accelerate the disappearance of symptoms, especially in those who present episodes of cholinergic urticaria due to physical exercise or during hot showers. Oral antihistamines are also useful for symptom control. Their effect is not as immediate as cold showers, but in case of very bothersome symptoms they can be used.

In the Dermatology Unit of Paracelso Sagasta we approach all types of skin pathologies from a comprehensive point of view, in order to offer you an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment, focused on alleviating your symptoms and maintaining a healthy skin. Make an appointment today.


Cholinergic urticaria
Sweat allergy