Can You Work Out With Hives?

Urticaria -- commonly called hives -- is a skin condition that causes swollen red welts and itchiness. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that about 20 percent of people get hives at some point in their lives. Although hives might make you feel unwell, the condition doesn't mean that you have to give up your workout routine. It's usually safe to exercise with hives, unless you've been advised otherwise by your physician or allergist.

What Are Hives?

Hives are caused by histamines, chemicals the body releases in response to stress and infection. People who break out in hives release histamines when exposed to chemicals that aren't otherwise dangerous, which makes hives a form of allergic reaction. Some foods, insect bites, skin irritation from lotions and perfumes and infections can all cause hives. Hives typically last for six weeks or less, but often come and go in only a few hours. Antihistamines such as Benadryl can help your hives clear up, but if you experience chronic or extremely painful hives, consult your doctor.

Exercising With Hives

Exercising with hives is generally safe, but rubbing and scratching hives can make them worse. Consequently, avoid workouts that place pressure on the affected area, and wear non-constricting clothes. Trapped moisture in workout clothes can make your hives worse. If you have hives on your hands or another area you'll need to use to work out, avoid working out until your hives are under control.

Exercise and Irritation

Because some chemicals can make hives worse, a few exercise routines can cause problems. Gymnasts who use chalk or powder to create friction, for example, may find that these substances irritate their hives. Workout equipment that has come into contact with allergens can also be a problem, so thoroughly clean weights, bars and workout machines before exercising if you've recently had hives.

Exercise and Heat

Some people find that heat makes their hives worse, and the heat and sweat of a workout may be a trigger for some people. Heat can cause your body to raise more histamines, particularly if you're sweating heavily or getting an intense workout. If you find that heat makes your hives worse, stick to low-key activities during cooler weather or stay inside until your hives are gone.